Ricky Walden beat Masters champion Neil Robertson 5-3 to advance to the last 16 as the German Masters kicked off in Berlin on Wednesday.
It was a welcome first day of action, with the popular ranking event returning to the formidable Tempodrom after last year’s edition which took place behind closed doors in Milton Keynes.
Former champion Kyren Wilson, British Championship winner Zhao Xintong and Scottish Open winner Luca Brecel were among the other names to advance to the second round.
After a rather scrappy first half in the contest, Walden came alive in the final frames with breaks of 71, 79 and 124 helping him oust the Australian, one of the pre-tournament favourites.
The Englishman is not just looking to challenge for a fourth career ranking success this week, but also a place in next month’s lucrative Players Championship.
“I was really excited to stay there,” Ricky Walden told the Billiards World Tour after a win that moved him up to 13th in the provisional Race to the Players Championship standings, with the top 16 qualifying for Wolverhampton.
“To be honest, we both missed a few balls until 3-3 and also made a few breaks, so hanging on was nice. I made some good clearances and finished strong in the end.
“These are the toughest games to be honest, you’re playing against someone in top form who’s obviously a top seed, on a TV table where they’re more comfortable if you want them to be.
“It’s a tough hurdle to overcome, you just have to stick with it and try, so getting this win can give you a good stepping stone.
“It’s amazing (to play abroad). Checking in at the airport seems normal again and we have gone so long without travelling.
“Even going to Belfast for the Northern Ireland Open was a great experience because we didn’t play behind closed doors and all that kind of stuff.
“So it’s good to be back on a flight and it’s great to be back in Germany. Hopefully we can keep going through the season now, that everyone is healthy and that we can continue.
“It’s an amazing place and I’ve missed it many times over the years. You’re still gross to be back home knowing it’s being played in front of all the fans, so it’s good to be here – it’s a unique place and like nothing else.
Meanwhile, 2019 champion Wilson compiled a century and three extra points over 50 in a 5-1 win over Jimmy Robertson, while Zhao got the better of former two-time winner Mark Williams.
The Chinese 5-3 win was matched by Brecel in their loss to Zhang Anda, Zhou Yuelong and Tom Form recording 5-2 victories over Scotland’s Anthony McGill and Stephen Maguire respectively.
Craig Steadman was the other player to advance to the last 16 of the competition thanks to a 5-1 ousting of amateur Michael Georgiou.
Round one ends on Thursday with world champion Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen and Ken Doherty among those expected to take part.
Judd Trump without Gao Yang
Anthony McGill 2-5 Zhou Yuelong
Tom Ford 5-2 Stephen Maguire
Zhao Xintong 5-3 Mark Williams
Kyren Wilson 5-1 Jimmy Robertson
Michel Georgiou 1-5 Craig Steadman
Zhang Anda 3-5 Luca Brecel
Ricky Walden 5-3 Neil Robertson
Andrew Higginson without Liang Wenbo
Liam Highfield vs. Fan Zhengyi (Thursday, 9 a.m.)
Lyu Haotian vs. Mark Allen (Thursday, 9 a.m.)
Kurt Maflin vs. Shaun Murphy (Thursday, 2 p.m.)
Noppon Saengkham vs. Ryan Day (Thursday, 2 p.m.)
Sam Craigie vs. Ken Doherty (Thursday, 2 p.m.)
David Gilbert vs. Yan Bingtao (Thursday, 2 p.m.)
Barry Pinches vs. Mark Selby (Thursday, 9 a.m.)
Live coverage of the German Masters 2022 will be available in Ireland, Great Britain and across Europe via Eurosport. Other options are available by click here.
Featured photo credit: WST