A day after a snooker tournament finishes, qualifying for another gets underway when three sessions of action takes place in the International Championship preliminaries with everyone on show at Ponds Forge looking for the six frames which will send them through to the main draw in China.
This is one of those tournaments where only a select set of players have had their qualifying match held over to the main venue so over the course of the week we are going to see some stars on show and that is the case on Monday.
Stephen Maguire is the first of those household names on show on Monday when he headlines the morning session. The Scot will take on Peng Yisong who will be looking to make it through to a home tournament. Maguire isn’t the most famous Scot on show in the morning session though as Stephen Hendry will look to qualify for a tournament for the first time this year. Tian Pengfei is the man looking to deny him. Wu Yize is another Chinese player looking to qualify for his home tournament. He takes on Ross Muir while two home players battle in the other match as Yuan Sijun meets Long Zehuang.
Ryan Day is the leading light on show in the afternoon session on Monday. In fact, this part of the day is loaded with Welsh players with Day meeting the former women’s world champion Mink Nutcharut. Michael White is another player from Wales on show in this session. The Indian player Himanshu Jain will be his opponent while Jackson Page will meet Liam Graham for a place in the main draw. The other match in the afternoon session sees Mark Joyce going up against Andy Lee.
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Just the three matches will take place in the evening session but we have plenty of recognisable players on show including the European Masters champion Barry Hawkins who will be out to continue his good start to the season. Andrew Pagett will be his opponent. Jimmy White is another standout star in action in the evening session. He will take on Matthew Selt while Robbie Williams will also go in search of a place in the final stages of the event when he takes on the talented Belgian youngster Ben Mertens.
Ben Mertens has already seen off Gary Wilson and Shaun Murphy this season so Robbie Williams shouldn’t hold any fears for the talented Belgian youngster and I think he could be a spot of value at odds against to come through their match. Williams pops up now and again but he doesn’t have the consistency of the better players in the game so you do get the feeling that this match is on the cue tip of Mertens.
Mertens is clearly playing well this season. You don’t beat players of the calibre of Wilson and Murphy if you are not hitting the ball well and while there are some surprising results still on his CV this term, we should remember that he is still quite young and that is going to happen. Williams is what I would call solid rather than spectacular and so if Mertens can bring his scoring boots with him then I would expect him to get the job done here.
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