Stephen Hendry’s return to the baize ended in defeat, but the Scot’s comeback was certainly an interesting subplot to the Gibraltar Open.
Hendry took on Matt Selt in his first match since retiring from the sport in 2012. It wasn’t a happy return for the seven-time world champion, who was beaten 4-1, but it wasn’t difficult to be moved by the Scot’s 107-break in the second frame.
That century brought the memories of Hendry’s dominance flooding back and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.
Ding Misfire as Big Guns Progress
Elsewhere, top potters Mark Williams, Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins, Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson all made it through to the second-round in Milton Keynes. Ding Junhui was one big gun who failed to fire and the Chinese Sensation was beaten 4-2 by his 18-year-old countryman Si Jiahui.
Moving onto this evening’s action there are some interesting matches. Former world champion Neil Robertson takes on Lei Peifan. The Aussie is understandably long odds-on to see off his inexperienced opponent.
Those matches have a limited attraction from a betting point of view, but one contest that is of interest is Billy Joe Castle’s clash against Ben Woollaston.
Still Time for Woollaston to Make His Mark
Rewind to 2015 and Woollaston had burst onto the scene after making the final of the Welsh Open. It looked as if the superb break-building skills of the Leicester cueman would carry him a long way in the game.
Things haven’t quite worked out how Woollaston would have hoped up until now, but there is still time for the Leicester potter to fulfil that potential.
Woollaston made the final of the Championship League at the back end of last season. Sure, that’s a low-key short-format event, but the 33-year-old leaves the impression that confidence plays an important part in his performances.
This season has been pretty solid for Woollaston and it took high-class cuemen Kyren Wilson and Ali Carter to stop him at the last-16 stage of the English and Northern Irish Open.
The Leicester man was beaten by John Higgins in the recent Welsh Open, but there was a lot to like about that performance and today’s opponent isn’t anywhere near the level of the Wizard of Wishaw.
Castle has certainly shown glimpses of promise in previous campaigns, but the Hampshire cueman has lost in the first-round of the nine ranking events he has competed in this term.
In fact, Castle has won just two of his last 18 matches and those victories came in the qualifying stage of the three-frame WST Pro Series.
Woollaston can be backed at
5/4 giving Castle a two-and-a-half frame start and that makes plenty of appeal.
*All odds correct at time of writing