It’s Day 3 of the Northern Ireland Open, and top seeds make their way to the next round of the tournament. The day delivers as much action as promised as fans cheer for their favourite stars to glory. However, one faction of that pool of cheerleaders has been found wanting – those of Neil Robertson.
Neil might have had the last laugh at the Champion of Champions event, showing bouts of resilience to beat Judd Trump to the title and get his fingers the fastest to the £150,000 cheque up for grabs, however, he won’t be playing any further part in the Northern Ireland Open.
A night ago, the Austrian star – who looked out of sorts – was defeated by Mark Joyce. For Robertson, the title is now out of arm’s reach as he is forced to take a break from a hectic schedule that has seen him jump quickly from Champion of Champion duties to this tournament.
This should be good news for the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, John Higgins, and Mark Selby, among others who can now see themselves only inches away from the title with a major rival down.
Speaking of Mark Selby, the Englishman has now booked a place in the last-32 following a brilliant win over Matthew Stevens. Stevens was faultless at the start, taking the first frame and forcing Selby to stand on his toes.
Stevens, with a break of 58, missed an easy red, followed by another big chance after that. Selby had a chance of his own in the first frame also but failed to make the best out of it, gifting it to Stevens.
However, the outcome of that frame didn’t matter in minutes to come. Mark Selby proved too strong for his opponent in Stevens, racing on to a 4-1 win, reeling off-breaks of 87, 41, and 53 in the process.
Prior to that, Barry Hawkins progressed to the next round after thumping Michael Holt to a 4-3 win. Hawkins could count himself lucky to get over the line against Holt, who’s become a thorn in his flesh. Holt recently defeated Hawkins at the recent World Open in Yushan.
Mark Selby is strongly fancied at 1.39 to defeat Luca Brecel, while Brecel is backed at 2.95.
Written by: Roland Arum