European Masters Kick Starts Snooker in Austria

The last 32 got under way with the majority of the remaining seeds making it beyond the opening hurdle at the venue stages.

Only seven top 16 members survived the qualification rounds last month in Barnsley and six of them were in action on the opening day.

UK champion Ding Junhui surged into the last 16 with a routine 5-0 defeat of Robert Milkins.

The Chinese number one, who beat Stephen Maguire to claim his third UK title in December, put behind him the disappointment of an early first round exit in the Masters last week.

Ding will face Scott Donaldson next following the latter’s 5-2 upset of Kyren Wilson in which the 25 year-old contributed five half-century breaks.

Neil Robertson and John Higgins also progressed from the top half of the draw with contrasting 5-2 victories.

While Higgins couldn’t score a single frame winning break in his scrappy victory over Fergal O’Brien, Robertson managed a trademark brace of tons in overcoming Lyu Haotian.

The bottom half of the draw still features Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins after the English duo ousted Jak Jones and David Lilley respectively.

The pair, probably somewhat annoyingly considering there are hardly any elite members around them in the draw, face each other in the second round.

Elsewhere, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh fired in a magnificent 146 break as the Thai fought back from 2-0 down to beat Robbie Williams in another tie that ended 5-2 – the day’s popular scoreline.

There have only been 19 runs of 146 recorded on the Main Tour, making it probably the rarest break in snooker.

Ali Carter, who agonisingly fell short of a maiden Triple Crown title in the Masters final on Sunday, edged Tian Pengfei while Marco Fu repeated the 5-3 margin against Lu Ning.

Former world champion Graeme Dott, Xiao Guodong, and Michael Holt were the others to produce good snooker in Austria early on.

The first round will conclude on Thursday morning with the likes of Mark Williams and Gary Wilson entering the fray, before the action continues with the second round later in the day.

Along with the German Masters, Snooker Shoot Out, and the Gibraltar Open, this event helps to make up the new European Series in which the highest earner across all four tournaments will receive a £150,000 bonus.

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