Australian Neil Robertson starts the defence of his ManBetX Welsh Open snooker title at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on Tuesday evening.
Robertson’s first round match is against Llanelli-born Jamie Clarke, a 25-year-old nicknamed the ‘Welsh Whirlwind’.
A year ago, Robertson was crowned champion in Cardiff after beating Stuart Bingham in the final.
He takes on Clarke after winning his 18th ranking title with a 10-8 win over Scot Graeme Dott at the World Grand Prix in Cheltenham a few days ago..
Robertson scored five centuries including a total clearance of 127 to level at 2-2.
Mark Williams, from Cwm, Blaenau Gwent, has won the Welsh Open twice and eased into the second round with a 4-1 win against Oliver Lines.
He was delighted with that victory and was feeling far better after suffering from gout over the last few months.
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) February 11, 2020
“The gout is gone, thank God, and fingers crossed it doesn’t come back,” Williams told World Snooker Tour.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Williams then talked about his win against Lines, saying: “I played okay in patches. It was a bit scrappy, but I was just hoping to get through.
“If I hadn’t been practicing this last month I probably would have lost that.
“I’ve let myself down over the last 12 months, picking my cue up knowing I’m going to get hammered. I thought, I’ve had enough, I may as well practice and give it a go.
“The next couple of months is all about trying to win matches and gain a bit of momentum going heading into the world championships.”
Williams has won 22 ranking titles and been crowned World Champion three times, but it is more than a year since he last lifted a trophy [2018 World Open].
Four-times Welsh champion Ronnie O’Sullivan eased to a 4-1 victory against Zhang Jiankang, recording breaks of 46, 51, 53, 69 and, in the final frame, 81.
“I’m starting from zero trying to build up to a hundred, whereas some players have done back-to-back tournaments,” O’Sullivan told World Snooker Tour.
“We’ve seen Dotty [Graeme Dott] beaten and he was playing really good snooker, but you can’t go from one tournament to the next consistently. Sometimes the wheels just go no more.
“In the other direction I need a few wins, I need some matches.”
World Champion Judd Trump defeated James Cahill 4-1, opening with a break of 132.
Matthew Stevens, from Carmarthen, won 4-2 against David Gilbert, while Neath-born Daniel Wells beat Barry Pinches 4-2.
Welsh players Lee Walker, Duane Jones, Ryan Day, Michael White and Kishan Hirani all went out.
World number 17 Joe Perry from Cambridgeshire suffered a surprise first round defeat, losing against Ashley Carty 4-3.
“I played terribly out there – I’d put it down to just being tired really,” said Perry.
“It’s a busy schedule. I haven’t been winning tournaments like Neil Robertson, but I’ve been at a lot of snooker events and I just need to recover.
“I lost at the Grand Prix on Friday and now I’m first up here on Monday morning – it would have been nice to play on the Tuesday to be honest.
“I didn’t think well and I didn’t play well. I’m surprised I played as badly as I did but I’m not shocked – I’m 45 now, I’ve done a lot of travelling recently and I’m pretty honest about my snooker.
“I haven’t played well at all this season, and I can’t keep dodging bullets.
The Welsh Open and next week’s BetVictor Shoot Out are the last two qualifying events the 16 players going to the Coral Players Championship in Southport.
The top 16 players on the one-year ranking lost will head to the Southport Waterfront for the second event in the Coral Series, from February 24 to March 1.
O’Sullivan is outside the top 16, £11,000 behind Gary Wilson, who is currently in the final qualifying spot.
The Welsh Open winner will receive £70,000, the runner-up earns £30,000 and the semi-finalists £20,000.
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) February 11, 2020
ManBetX Welsh Open
Welsh Open draw & tournament
Neil Robertson v Jamie Clarke
Fergal O’Brien v Mark Joyce
Noppon Saengkham 4, Alan McManus 3
Hammad Miah 2, Alexander Ursenbacher 4
Ali Carter 4, Adam Stefanow 2
Gerard Greene 4, Liang Wenbo 2
Joe Perry 3, Ashley Carty 4
Daniel Wells 4, Barry Pinches 2
Yuan SiJun 4, Thor Chuan Leong 0
Jimmy Robertson 4, Riley Parsons 0
Nigel Bond 0, Ricky Walden 4
Ding Junhui 4, Marco Fu 2
Martin O’Donnell 4, Andy Hicks 0
Tom Ford 4, Xu Si 3
— jason ferguson (@jasonferguson5) February 10, 2020
Zhang Anda 3, Liam Highfield 4
Kyren Wilson 4, Jackson Page 3
Mark Selby 4, David Grace 2
Kurt Maflin 3, Chen Zifan 4
Matthew Selt 2, Andy Lee 4
Robbie Williams 4, Chris Wakelin 1
David Gilbert 2, Matthew Stevens 4
Brandon Sargeant w/o v Peter Ebdon
Graeme Dott 0, Zhao Xintong 4
Lu Ning 3, Louis Heathcote 4
Si Jiahui 4, Lei Peifan 1
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 2, Soheil Vahedi 4
Lee Walker 2, John J Astley 4
Jack Lisowski 4, Li Hang 2
Anthony Hamilton 4, Michael White 3
Lyu Haotian 4, Kishan H Hirani 0
Stuart Carrington 4, Mike Dunn 3
Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Zhang Jiankang 1
Mark Williams 4, Oliver Lines 1
Jordan Brown 4, Alex Borg 1
Anthony McGill 4, Duane Jones 1
Mei Xi Wen 4, Michael Georgiou 2
Stuart Bingham 4, Martin Gould 2
Chen Feilong 4, Sam Baird 3
Yan Bingtao 4, Michael Holt 0
Mitchell Mann 4, Bai Langning 1
Luca Brecel v Kacper Filipiak
Scott Donaldson 4, Sunny Akani
Tian Pengfei 4, Jamie O’Neill 2
Barry Hawkins v Sam Craigie
Peter Lines 1, Fan Zhengyi 4
Xiao Guodong v Fraser Patrick
Mark King 1-4 Ken Doherty
John Higgins v Joe O’Connor
Mark Allen 4, Andrew Higginson 1
James Wattana 4, Jimmy White 2
Ryan Day 1, Simon Lichtenberg 4
David Lilley 0, Dominic Dale 4
Shaun Murphy v Gavin Lewis or Darren Morgan
Alfie Burden 4, Amine Amiri 0
Zhou Yuelong 1, Elliot Slessor 4
Eden Sharav v Ben Woollaston
Jak Jones v Robert Milkins
Gary Wilson v Chang Bingyu
Ian Burns v Harvey Chandler
Stephen Maguire 4, Rod Lawler 2
Hossein Vafaei v Igor Figueiredo
Mark Davis v Luo Honghao
Craig Steadman v Billy Joe Castle
Judd Trump 4, James Cahill 1