Allen wins out after a worrying wobble
Northern Ireland's Mark Allen admitted he had to battle to lift himself as he completed a 10-4 victory over qualifier Tom Ford on the second morning of the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship at the Crucible.
The man from Antrim returned with an overnight 8-1 lead and victory appeared a formality but Ford put up a fight, taking three of the five frames.
Ford took the first frame of the day with breaks of 39 and 77 and added a 72 to win the second.
He took a 38-0 lead in the next before missing a regulation red and offering his opponent a way back in, Allen making 61 before fluffing a pink.
After Ford could not take advantage, 24-year-old Allen cleared from yellow to blue to claim a scrappy frame and take a 9-3 lead.
A break of 58 in the following frame saw Ford reduce the arrears to 9-4 at the mid-session break, but Allen produced a break of 72 before rounding off his 10-4 win in exhibition style by deliberately fouling on the final black.
He said afterwards: “Was it 10-4 or 10-5? I honestly can't remember, as my head had gone. I never felt comfortable in the second session, but I had done enough.
“Normally I get nervous and feed off the nerves, but I was too relaxed, and a bit flat.
“Being 8-1 up you just feel it's a matter of time, and I didn't deal with it that well. Tom could have won every frame in that last session.
“I let myself get dragged down, and I never managed to be motivated, which you don't expect at the world championship.”
Allen had gone close to a 147 - and an accompanying £157,000 prize — yesterday, breaking down at 122 after snookering himself on the green, and joked: “Was it a big cheque then? I wasn't thinking about it!”
Ford backed his opponent, a semi-finalist last year, to again make good progress and said: “Looking at the draw, Mark has a good chance of a decent run here.”
On his own performance, he admitted: “I expected to play better, and made it too easy for him. With it being my debut, losing the first frame was massive.
“It is not often you might say the first frame in a best-of-19 was the turning point, but it was a bit for me.
“It was a huge blow to lose it in those circumstances.”
On the other table, Martin Gould fought back well from 4-1 down to end the first session only a frame behind against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.
Fu led 2-0, the highlight being a break of 70, before Gould halved the deficit with a run of 58.
But a 56 set Fu on his way to a 3-1 advantage and he pinched the fifth after Gould carelessly fouled on the green.
Gould superbly went into the pack off two cushions from the black to set up a key break of 35 as he won the next — only for Fu to respond with a clearance of 112.
But Gould hit back with a 103 clearance to move within two frames and knocked in a 51 on his way to winning the final frame of the session, sealing the frame by potting yellow to blue before going in off when potting the pink.
Joe Perry defeated Michael Holt 10-4 and, late last night, Stephen Hendry defeated Zhang by a single frame, while Ken Doherty kissed goodbye to the Championship as Mark Selby charged through.
After failing to qualify 12 months ago, Doherty was so thrilled to clinch his place in the draw this time that he entered the arena and planted a kiss on the theatre floor before eventually going down 10-4.