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Mark Allen baffled by early Masters exit at the hands of debutant David Gilbert

Mark Allen has now made two first round Masters exits since his 2018 victory.
Mark Allen has now made two first round Masters exits since his 2018 victory.

By Ross Lawson

Mark Allen admits plenty of questions must be asked of his performance after crashing out of the Masters to debutant David Gilbert.

The Northern Irishman won the prestigious invitational two years ago but suffered a first-round loss for the second successive season, losing 6-1 at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Gilbert, who finished runner up in both the German Master and English Open last year, played well but Allen helped him on his way – far from at his fluent best having gone into the mid-session interval 4-0 down.

The rest of the season is filled with tournaments but the Antrim potter knows he must find the answer sooner rather than later if he is to taste success before hanging up his cue for the summer.

“I’ve been practicing hard and was looking forward to coming, I just didn’t play well. I’ll have to watch it back and see if I can see anything,” he said.

“I was 4-0 down at the mid-session interval but still felt good – I’d normally be on the practice table in that situation but I was feeling okay.

“I just couldn’t get anything going, it’s a very disappointing performance but I can’t pinpoint what went wrong.

“You never know what you get at the Masters, we’ve had three or four weeks off since the last tournament but you have plenty of practice under your belt.

“There’s some questions to ask and we’ll see where we go next.”

Allen’s demise continued a tournament of shocks so far at the Ally Pally, with the underdogs spoiling the party in all four of the matches played to date.

Playing his part in the trend proved no consolation to the world No.7, however, comprehensively outplayed by a man who had never previously taken part in the event.

Nerves weren’t evident for Gilbert though, breaks of 77, 121 and 58 helping him into a 3-0 lead from which he never looked back.

“He played very well, I didn’t get a shot in that first frame,” added Allen.

“In the second, I missed a red when forcing it off two cushions – and all of a sudden you’re 2-0 down.

“Dave’s on debut and that usually goes one of two ways – you can feel inspired and start like he did, or you can struggle with nerves and fall flat on your face which I was hoping for.

“I got off to a flyer the first time I played in the Masters, Dave’s a class player and it’s different to making your debut here compared to 10 or 15 years ago.

“He’s playing so much snooker, he’s been winning a lot of matches and flying up the rankings in the past 18 months so it’s no surprise that he’s coming here full of confidence.”

Watch the London Masters LIVE on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with analysis from Ronnie O'Sullivan, Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.

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