WORLD No1 Neil Robertson got his bid for a 10th ranking title up and running on Friday night with a 4-1 victory over Chinese prodigy Lyu Haotian at the BetVictor Welsh Open.
The 32-year-old was pegged back at 1-1 by tour rookie Lyu, but that only served to push Robertson up through the gears and he reeled off the next three frames.
But the left-hander was left bitterly disappointed that he could not add to his current tally of 86 centuries in the chase for the magical ‘hundred hundreds’ milestone this season.
Australian Robertson, looking to lift the trophy again in an event he won back in 2007, had good chances in at least three frames to reach three figures.
And such has been his phenomenal strike rate during this campaign he could not fully savour an impressive display against the 16-year-old.
Robertson said: “I am really pleased and thought I played really well. I am just absolutely sick that I didn’t make three centuries in the match.
“With how I have been playing, I am really sick about it. It could have been three more along the road to the hundred.
“It’s a goal, something you do and don’t have control over – but when you have matches when you are playing well you want to convert.
“So if I am being ultra-critical that is probably the one thing I am disappointed with. I will go home tonight and then be back up on Monday.
“It is a tournament I haven’t done so well in in recent years, but it was the second title I ever won and so I am keen to have a good run this week.”
Robertson also admitted to some sympathy for teenager Lyu having to leave home and brave a new culture at such a young age.
He added: “Lyu is only 16 and I was on a hiding to nothing, I needed another focus in the match and was trying to make some big breaks.
“I felt sorry for him not having his dad here, it reminded me of what it was like for me on tour at a young age.”
Jimmy White suffered another blow to his hopes of staying on tour without having to go to Qualifying School, after slumping to a 4-0 defeat to Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
White will almost certainly need to stay in the top 64 on the money list at the end of the season, and currently stands 60th but looking vulnerable with players below him still in the Newport draw.
There are other tournaments left for the Whirlwind, now 51, to save himself. But next up is the Haikou World Open, where White has a tough first-round draw in the shape of a rejuvenated Shaun Murphy.
Elsewhere Alfie Burden easily saw off Ahmed Saif 4-0.
Photographs by Monique Limbos