MARK ALLEN made a great escape to avoid a shock first round exit at the BetVictor Welsh Open at the Newport Centre on Thursday.

Allen trailed amateur Sydney Wilson 3-0 but battled through to win 4-3 and secure his place in the last 64.

Wilson was poised to complete a surprise 4-0 victory but missed a pink leading by 37 in the fourth frame. Allen cleared with 45 and grew stronger as Wilson began to feel the pressure.

With the match tied at 3-3, Wilson played a poor break-off shot, leaving Allen in with a chance to win, which he did with a break of 112.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Allen said. “I didn’t see those first three frames coming the way I’ve been playing. I’ve been practising hard and just couldn’t get anything going. I couldn’t concentrate.

“In the back of my mind I knew I was playing an amateur and that I should win, and I completely let it get to me. He would probably say for his standard, he didn’t play that well and was 3-0 up.

“When my back was against the wall I made a good clearance and I think that put him under pressure. He started to throw his arm at a few after that and then it was a matter of me being patient.

“He made a bad break-off in the last and gave me a chance. I slowed myself down because I knew he was feeling it and I didn’t want to give him any easy chances.

“I’m happy enough to get through. In a week’s time looking back it’ll just be a W beside my name.”

Allen chose not to enter the Championship League or Gdynia Open but rejected suggestions he had been match-rusty.

“I should be fresh. I chose to sit out those tournaments. It’s not like I was entering them and getting beat. It’s the way I’ve approached the last few seasons and it’s paid off the last couple of years,” he said.

Ken Doherty, whose first ranking title was the 1993 Welsh Open at Newport, needed only 63 minutes to beat James Cahill 4-0.

Doherty, also Welsh Open champion in 2001, made breaks of 66, 85 and 112 as he raced into the next round.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.