Reigning Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown was dethroned after losing 4-3 to Mitchell Mann on an action-packed opening day in Newport.
The final event of this season’s Home Nations Series commenced at Celtic Manor Resort on Monday, with 82 players competing to lift the Ray Reardon trophy.
Brown made his memorable breakthrough here 12 months ago with a fairytale run to the title. Then ranked 81st in the world and priced at 750-1, the Antrim Ferrari cast aside all before him including Mark Selby and Stephen Maguire, before stunning Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in the final.
However, his title defence was to fall at the first hurdle. Despite a top break of 124, the world number 24 was ousted in a deciding frame by the Birmingham cueist.
There were no such problems for Zhao Xintong; the UK champion hitting breaks of 115 and 101 in a commanding 4-1 win over Oliver Lines, while Mark Selby and Judd Trump prevailed by the same scoreline against Chen Zifan and Dean Young respectively.
Five-time champion John Higgins – the most successful player in the competition’s history – had runs of 113 and 89 in his 4-1 victory over Pang Junxu, as a top contribution of 121 was the highlight of Neil Robertson’s whitewash of Jimmy White.
Mark Allen hit breaks of 120 and 70 as he beat 1993 winner Ken Doherty 4-1, while former champions Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham also dropped just a single frame against Sean Maddocks and Michael Judge respectively.
Aided by a run of 110, 2018 runner-up Barry Hawkins whitewashed Alexander Ursenbacher, and Shaun Murphy overcame Andy Hicks 4-2. Although, Kyren Wilson required a deciding frame to see off Dominic Dale, as did Yan Bingtao against Ashley Hugill.
However, there was no joy for Stephen Maguire; the 2013 champ beaten 4-1 by Fergal O’Brien, while world number 14 Anthony McGill suffered a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Zhang Anda.
Welsh Open Snooker 2022 Schedule of Play
Monday February 28
Jordan Brown 3-4 Mitchell Mann
Anthony McGill 3-4 Zhang Anda
Shaun Murphy 4-2 Andy Hicks
Stephen Maguire 1-4 Fergal O’Brien
Barry Hawkins 4-0 Alexander Ursenbacher
Judd Trump 4-1 Dean Young
Liam Davies 3-4 Iulian Boiko
Kyren Wilson 4-3 Dominic Dale
Yan Bingtao 4-3 Ashley Hugill
Mark Williams 4-1 Michael Judge
Stuart Bingham 4-1 Sean Maddocks
Zhao Xintong 4-1 Oliver Lines
Neil Robertson 4-0 Jimmy White
Mark Allen 4-1 Ken Doherty
Elliot Slessor 4-3 Dylan Emery
John Higgins 4-1 Pang Junxu
Mark Selby 4-1 Chen Zifan
Si Jiahui L-L Gary Wilson
Allan Taylor L-L Michael White