JOHN Higgins came through a Glasgow derby in China to revive memories of a fine run at the Wuxi Classic 12 months ago.
Scotland’s four-time world champion saw off compatriot Anthony McGill 5-3 in the first major tournament of the season.
That saw Higgins, 39, into the last 32 of the £500,000 event where he reached his only final of the last campaign losing to Neil Robertson.
Following that defeat Higgins’ form slumped away and he was also plagued by cue problems as his ranking tumbled to world No11.
But Higgins knocked in breaks of 85, 122 and 94 in sealing a morale-boosting win over young prospect McGill.
Meanwhile former world No1 Judd Trump raced into the second round with a 5-1 win over Leeds’ David Grace – despite a top break of just 46.
There was another impressive victory for Finland’s resurgent Robin Hull, who recovered from 3-1 adrift to beat last year’s Shanghai Masters finalist Xiao Guodong 5-3.
Wild-card spots for emerging countries are widely seen to serve an initial purpose, though many no longer see why there are needed in China, with so many playing opportunities now in Asia for young prospects.
However their use remains and three professionals fell by the wayside having qualified to get to Wuxi – Scott Donaldson, Andrew Norman and Yu Delu at the hands of Chen Zifan, Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao respectively.
There were also wins for Marco Fu and Michael Holt while Michael Georgiou – back on tour via Q School for the first time in five years – saw off Marcus Campbell 5-1.
Photographs by Monique Limbos