Neil Robertson becomes fifth former World Snooker champion to bow out in first round

Michael Holt produced the biggest win of his career to overcome Neil Robertson 10-6 as another former champion fell at the first hurdle in this year's Betfred World Championship.

The Crucible had already seen four former champions bow out in the first round, with Graeme Dott, Stuart Bingham, Peter Ebdon and Shaun Murphy all leaving Sheffield early, and - trailing 6-3 from the afternoon session - it was always a real possibility that Robertson might follow them. And he did.

Qualifier Holt had not won a match at the Crucible since 2005 but showed no nerves at the resumption on Tuesday evening, extending his lead to 9-4 to move to within a frame of victory.

Michael Holt
Michael Holt

The 2010 champion looked like getting himself back into the match with breaks of 79 and 54, but a knock of 65 saw Holt get the job done and send the world number four out of the tournament.

After his victory, Holt told Eurosport: "It's on the biggest stage so I guess you can say that it's my biggest win.

"I've beaten everyone at some stage but out here (at the Crucible) it's a different ball game. To beat a top seed and play good as well, I rode my luck at times but you need that bit of luck. I'm really chuffed.

"I've been working on my game to try to get better and I've always believed I can play, and I think that's where a lot of my frustrations have come from - that I don't always do it on the big stage, which is disappointing because I know I can play.

"I'm only into the second round but I'm going to enjoy it and then get my head down and move on to the next one."

Holt will play another former champion in the shape of Mark Williams in round two later this week.

On the other table, Barry Hawkins got his first-round tie against China's Zhang Anda under way and will take a 6-3 lead into Wednesday's deciding session.

Hawkins took the opening two frames but a break of 83 saw the 24-year-old half his arrears. Hawkins restored his two-frame lead but knocks of 91 and 93 saw Zhang level things up at 3-3 before Hawkins won the remaining three frames of the session.

Four-time former champion John Higgins earlier eased into the second round with a comprehensive 10-3 triumph over qualifier Ryan Day.

The damage was all done on Monday morning as Higgins plundered three century breaks to take a 7-2 lead.

The 40-year-old Scot lost the opening frame at the resumption on Tuesday afternoon but won the next three frames to get the job done, knocking in a magnificent break of 121 to clinch the match.

''I'm obviously delighted,'' Higgins told BBC 2. ''Ryan's a good player, he showed in the qualifiers when he came from 9-5 down to beat Alfie Burden.

''He's capable of producing a three or four frame burst to get back into the game so even though I was 7-2 overnight it was a dodgy scoreline.

''At 6-3 you still have a game but at 7-2 you're well in control but you can start to lose that, as we saw earlier a little bit with Mark Selby. It can go tight. There's no easy matches, they're all tough.''

Higgins has not gone past the second round at the Crucible since last lifting the trophy in 2011 but he feels his major ranking event wins this season in Australia and China might help him to reach the latter stages of the World Championship once again.

He said: ''I think that only comes with winning things and those three tournaments have given me that belief again that I can compete with the best players.

''I'm sure if I can produce my best game I can be a match for them but it's doing it on the big stage and we'll see what happens in the next game.''

Higgins will face Ricky Walden in the second round later this week.

Mark Allen holds a 6-3 lead over World Championship debutant Mitchell Mann heading into the second session of their first-round match on Wednesday.

More in this Section

Anthony Daly: Are referees and the GAA trying to destroy our game or what?Anthony Daly: Are referees and the GAA trying to destroy our game or what?

Hakim Ziyech signs five-year Chelsea deal ahead of summer switchHakim Ziyech signs five-year Chelsea deal ahead of summer switch

Daniel Storey: Mourinho’s mixed messages don’t inspire confidenceDaniel Storey: Mourinho’s mixed messages don’t inspire confidence

Cork Leagues: Goals help Sars make it two wins from twoCork Leagues: Goals help Sars make it two wins from two


Another episode, another incredible Cork woman. The tale of Mother Jones, the famous union organiser and activist against child labour in 19th century America.Five things for the week ahead: RTÉ showcase another incredible Cork woman

Holger Smyth part-owns and runs Inanna Rare Books, which has recently opened a ‘rare book lounge’ at the former Hawthorn creamery near Drimoleague, Co Cork.We sell books: Cream of the book crop sold from former co-op

Milton Jones talks hecklers, Hawaiian shirts and the world’s favourite clever Irishman with Richard FitzpatrickMilton Jones: When one line will do just fine

After almost 70 years of trying the search goes on, but so far nothing has been found.Sky Matters: Whether we are alone in the Universe has exercised many great minds

More From The Irish Examiner