It's the second day that I was in Telford and the matches I was looking forward to seeing the most were Ronnie O'Sullivan v Stuart Bingham and Stephen Hendry v Jimmy White. Unfortunately for me, both of those matches were being played to a conclusion the next day and I had to go back home that night!
The only shock result today was from Widnes potter, Andrew Higginson. His best result before was getting to the Welsh Open finals before narrowly losing to Neil Robertson. But today he has almost equalled that, beating World Open semi-finalist Peter Ebdon 9-6 in what was one of the best victories of his career. Unfortunately it was on one of the side tables so not many people saw it. Neil Robertson meanwhile won 9 frames on the bounce beating Rory McLeod 9-1. Rory has yet to acclimatise at televised events, lets hope he can sort it out soon.
Also through was Scotland's No.1 John Higgins after he beat Stephen Lee. The first 8 frames of this match were described by Willie Thorne as "Some of the best Snooker I have seen in years" in which both players had at least 95%+ pot success rate and 4 centuries. In the second session though John managed to pull ahead to win the match 9-6. John has now firmly re-established himself back into the Snooker world and is playing some amazing stuff.
Overall though I had an amazing two days at the International Centre in Telford and seeing all the players in action and all the staff that is required to pull all this together is an amazing achievement and they have pulled it off brilliantly. I look forward to going back next year, hopefully in better weather conditions!
Graeme Dott 9-5 Martin Gould
John Higgins 9-6 Stephen Lee
Peter Ebdon 7-9 Andrew Higginson
Neil Robertson 9-1 Rory McLeod
Marco Fu 4-4 Barry Hawkins
Ali Carter 4-4 Mark Joyce
Stephen Hendry 4-4 Jimmy White
Mark Williams 6-2 Mark Davis
Now for the third day of competition, and more last 16 places were decided today, including those of Ronnie O'Sullivan/Stuart Bingham and Jimmy White/Stephen Hendry. And there was plenty of shocks to go around with four of the top seeds crashing out at the first hurdle.
Easily the biggest shock of the day came from Power Snooker and Premier League champion Ronnie O'Sullivan who lost 9-6 to former practice partner Stuart Bingham. I was in attendance for the first session on day two and it was clear to see that even though Stuart was playing well, Ronnie was clearly distracted at times and missing pots that he shouldn't of, leaving the score at 4-4 over night.
From what I was told he carried this on for the next day when at 6-6 he seemed to melt down which left Stuart to win 9-6, arguably one of the best results of his career, and his first win against O'Sullivan in years. Although this is good for Stuart, it can't be good for ticket sales and TV ratings with the biggest draw going out at this stage, lets hope Higgins, Robertson and Hendry stay a while longer.
A more exciting finish came from the Stephen Hendry against Jimmy White match. I was in the audience for the first session on day two and after the two legends both made a century break each in the first two frames, they seemed to both break down and lose focus in the next few frames, with barely any good breaks to mention and leaving it 4-4 over night.
I didn't get the chance to watch much of the second session on day three, but it went down to a final frame decider and like in his 2010 World Championship first round match against Zhang Anda, Hendry produced some amazing Snooker to win the frame and match with a spectacular 73 break. He now faces Mark Williams in the next round who didn't waste much time beating Sussex cueman Mark Davis 9-3. Williams should provide a much more tougher test for Hendry.
The other big shock of the day came from first round qualifier Mark Joyce who recorded the best win of his career in beating the Shanghai Masters champion and World no.2 Ali Carter. I got to see some of the first session of this match on day two and Ali wasn't definately at his best, he was even playing better at the Power Snooker event! Not to put Mark down though, he had came through four matches to qualify for this tournament and could progress even further against Judd Trump tomorrow who beat the World No.13 Jamie Cope 9-6 in what was apparently a high quality match with many century breaks.
Shaun Murphy 9-5 Patrick Wallace
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-9 Stuart Bingham
Mark Williams 9-3 Mark Davis
Jamie Cope 6-9 Judd Trump
Ali Carter 6-9 Mark Joyce
Stephen Hendry 9-8 Jimmy White
Marco Fu 9-7 Barry Hawkins
Mark King 8-9 Ryan Day
Last 16 Matches:
Ding Junhui 2-6 Mark Allen
Stephen Maguire 5-3 Mark Selby
Graeme Dott 4-4 John Higgins
Andrew Higginson 1-7 Neil Robertson