STEPHEN MAGUIRE began the defence of his BetVictor Welsh Open title with a 4-1 defeat of Elliot Slessor at the Newport Centre on Wednesday.

Maguire lost the opening frame but breaks of 79 and 98 helped put him 2-1 in front and the Scot closed out the match to advance to the last 64.

“First frame, he got in and was in total control. In the second frame he looked like he was in control again but I managed to pot a long red and things changed after that,” Maguire said.

“This is only best of seven. It’s a short dash. If you get off to a bad start, which I nearly did, then he’s a strong favourite to win. So you have to be out of the blocks really fast.”

Maguire won a dramatic Welsh Open final last year, beating Stuart Bingham 9-8 from 7-5 down. It was his first ranking title for five years but the world no.8 says he isn’t dwelling on his status as defending champion.

“I don’t feel any different than going into any other tournament. I try to win them all. I don’t treat it differently to any of the other tournaments I’ve played in this season,” Maguire said.

“The event starts again in the quarter-finals with the best of nines. You just have to try and get through these best of sevens.”

Maguire plays Robbie Williams or Sam Baird in the second round.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.