A review of the action on day one of the Betfred World Championship, as defending champion Mark Williams avoided the so-called Crucible curse.
Williams avoids Crucible curse
Defending champion Mark Williams finally hauled himself over the line to beat Martin Gould 10-7 on the first day of the Betfred World Championship.
Williams, who admits to having spent less time on the practice table since his third world title last April, took a 6-3 lead into the evening and extended it to 9-4, before Gould began to eat into the deficit.
In the end it was too much to ask, though, as Williams secured a place in the second round and a clash with either David Gilbert or Joe Perry.
After Gould took the opening frame of the match with a break of 64, Williams rattled off five on the spin, a pair of half-centuries eclipsed by a break of 129 to move clear at 5-1.
Gould stemmed the tide with a run of 62 but Williams confirmed his dominance over the first session by taking the final two frames to establish a healthy advantage.
Returning in the evening, the first four frames saw each player register a trio of half-centuries but it was Williams who edged the mini-session to lead 9-4.
Breaks of 70, 87 and 76 from Gould kept his hopes alive but Williams dominated the 17th frame to finally progress.
Afterwards, the Welshman expressed anger at World Snooker for allegedly preventing his son from wishing him good luck before the match, an allegation they denied.
Robertson within one
Neil Robertson made an ideal start to the World Snooker Championship by taking all nine frames of the opening session of his clash with Michael Georgiou.
Robertson relentlessly piled on the pressure against an opponent making his Crucible debut, and Georgiou could only muster a high break of 12 as he fell 4-0 behind.
Thanks to the odd moment of fortune and several moments of brilliance, Robertson continued to press on towards the second round and by the end of the session held a 9-0 lead.
The pair will return on Sunday evening for the formality of Robertson adding the frame he needs to reach the second round as the pre-tournament second-favourite lays down an early marker.
Robertson began the match with a 58 break before a century - exactly 100 - saw him take a 2-0 lead.
A scrappy third frame went his way before breaks of 96, 68 and 120 opened up an advantage which already looked unassailable, Georgiou unable to settle in his first match at the World Championship.
Frame seven ought to have gone his way but instead Robertson ground it out, an 85 break followed, and again he edged a tight ninth frame to end a nightmare session for his opponent.
It seems cruel that Georgiou must wait until Sunday's evening session, where Robertson will become just the second man in history to complete a Crucible whitewash should he take the first frame.
Ding on top
Regular Crucible contender Ding Junhui slowed flashes of his best to take a 6-3 lead over Anthony McGill, himself a former quarter-finalist.
The pair traded breaks of 64 and 59 before Ding moved into the ascendancy, two more half-centuries helping towards a 4-1 lead.
McGill edged closer by taking a tight sixth frame, before a 129 break from Ding restored a three-frame lead which became four when he took the next.
A high-quality session ended with a frame-winning 76 break from McGill to keep alive his hopes of an upset.
Brecel and Tian both lead
Luca Brecel, the 14th seed, fired a 131 break as he took a 5-4 advantage over qualifier Gary Wilson from Gateshead.
The Belgian also registered breaks of 74 and 88 as he moved into a 5-3 lead before Wilson got back within one by making 72 in the final frame of the session.
Stephen Maguire trails Tian Pengfei 5-4, the Chinese qualifier bagging a century as he turned a 4-2 deficit into a slender lead.
Saturday's Crucible scores
All first-round matches best of 19, played over two sessions; completed matches in bold
- Mark Williams 10-7 Martin Gould
- Neil Robertson 9-0 Michael Georgiou (final session 7pm Sunday)
- Ding Junhui 6-3 Anthony McGill (final session 10am Sunday)
- Luca Brecel 5-4 Gary Wilson (final session 10am Sunday)
- Stephen Maguire 4-5 Tian Pengfei (final session 7pm Sunday)