Mark Allen sends out a World title warning to all rivals
Antrim's Mark Allen breezed through to the World Snooker Championship second round with a 10-3 victory over qualifier Mitchell Mann and sent a clear message to the rest of the draw: "Bring it on!"
The world No7 has reached the semi-finals and two quarter-finals at the Crucible, but his recent record is poor having failed to get beyond round two since 2011.
Yet the 30-year-old looked at the top of his game as he recovered from 2-1 down to romp to victory, knocking in one century and several other sizeable breaks en route.
Allen will meet Joe Perry or Kyren Wilson in the next round on Sunday and he has the bit between his teeth.
"I handled everything well. My game is in good shape, so bring it on," he said. "I played well after the interval and put him under lots of pressure.
"He's a debutant. It's bound to be hard whenever you're put under pressure by one of the established names, and that's how it turned out.
"I'm happy to get through as a comfortable winner," Allen added.
After an early wobble, Allen knocked in breaks of 64, 104, 85, 78, 56 and 67 to move 9-3 up.
He was then on course to make a maximum 147 in frame 13, but after potting six successive reds and blacks, screwed up to pot a blue, apologising to the Crucible crowd as he did so.
A maximum break is worth £20,000 in prize money this year, on top of £10,000 for notching the highest break in the tournament, which could potentially be split.
Allen's refusal to make his first-ever Crucible maximum could be seen as a protest at those sums, though flat-batted explanations as to why he did so will prevent him landing in hot water with the game's governing body.
"It was six reds, six blacks. I can't say why I didn't go for it, but the answer I'll give is I was concentrating on winning the match," he added.
"Mitchell put me under pressure early on. The first four or five frames could have gone either way.
"The turning point was he missed a black off the spot in frame four, that changed it. I won the frame from there with a 64 break.
"I know if my opponent is struggling you are meant to put your foot to his throat, but it is hard to do that sometimes.
"Even though it was 10-3 it probably took more out of me than it should."
Allen will play either Joe Perry or Kyren Wilson in the second round of the £1.5million event.
World number 19 Wilson (24), from Kettering, led number 10 Perry (41), from Cambridge, 5-4 overnight.
"It will be tough no matter who I play," said Allen.
The second round matches are best of 25 frames split over three sessions, with Allen in action on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Monday afternoon.
Ding Junhui, who came through the qualifiers, beat Martin Gould 10-8 last night to set up a second round clash with Judd Trump or Liang Wenbo.
Meanwhile, World Snooker chief Barry Hearn has announced that the Masters Trophy will be renamed the Paul Hunter Trophy in memory of the three-time champion who passed away 10 years ago.
Watch the World Championship LIVE on Eurosport with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan.