World champion Graeme Dott was forced to dig deep to book his place in the second round of the Northern Ireland Trophy this morning.
Last season’s Crucible winner had to battle back from 3-2 down to triumph 5-3 against fellow countryman Jamie Burnett at the Waterfront Hall, pocketing breaks of 80, 50 and 67 to progress.
The world number six said after the success: “It’s important to win your first match of the season, especially after winning the world title.
“If you win things can happen quite quickly and infest. You want to get that first win under your belt.”
Burnett had runs of 61, 83 and 97 to make life difficult for Larkhall’s Dott, but the 29-year-old used every ounce of his 12 years experience as a professional to get over the winning line.
He opened up a 2-0 lead, opening with an 80 break, before Burnett won three frames on the spin to edge 3-2 ahead.
But Dott won the last three frames of the pair’s best-of-nine clash, fluking a red in the last frame to help grab his first win of the season.
“Jamie played three good frames to go ahead, but I played okay and started well,” added Dott, who now plays Leicester’s Mark Selby, winner of the World 8-Ball Pool Championship in Blackpool this summer.
“He potted a black ball and knocked in a red by accident. If he’d had got that it would have been 4-2, but it was cruel for him because a fluke in the last frame helped me win.
“I’ve not had much practice before this tournament, so it was always going to be a wee bit more of a struggle, but I played well and had some good breaks.”
Meanwhile, Selby, who knocked out Maltese cueman Tony Drago in the first round, wasted little time in securing his place in the last 16 with a 5-2 victory over Tiptree’s Ali Carter.
Playing in the only other match of the morning session, world number 28 Selby, secured his second victory in Belfast this week – and is understandably looking to continue his fine form against Dott.
“I’m playing better and feeling more confident,” said Selby, who went 3-0 ahead and had a chance to 4-0 ahead in his clash with Carter.
“Graeme’s a great player, so I can’t wait to play him. We’ve never played each other before, but you always look forward to playing the world champion.
Breaks of 77 and 76 were enough to see the 2003 Regal Scottish runner-up triumph, while Carter failed to make a break over 50 in his first outing of the 2006-07 season.
Selby added: “I’ve come here on a high having won the World 8-Ball Pool Championship.
“I didn’t play outstanding (against Carter), but I feel happy about my game.
“I had a tough match against Tony Drago, but the first match of the season is always difficult.”