Mark Allen goes through as world number one exits snooker World Championship
Mark Allen has got his Betfred World Championship campaign up and running with a first round victory.
The Antrim ace, bidding for a maiden world title, saw off Crucible debutante Liam Highfield 10-5 on Monday morning.
Allen had led 6-3 overnight and continued his good form to secure a convincing victory.
The draw has opened up for Allen, with World No.1 and two-time defending champion Mark Selby already out, leaving the NI man the much kinder prospect of facing Joe Perry, the oldest competitior in the draw, in the second round.
The Dafabet Masters champion started strongly with a break of 88 but Highfield kept him close and only trailed 3-2 after five frames.
But Allen, full of confidence after his first triple crown title at The Masters in January, pulled clear by winning three straight frames with breaks of 52 and 89.
That form was continued on Monday morning as he lost only two more frames on his way to victory.
Selby's shock exit at the hands of Perry on Saturday night has blown the top half of the draw wide open and, despite being the lowest of the seeded players, Allen will fancy his chances of making real progress.
However, if he is to go all the way then the chances are he will have to overcome Ronnie O'Sullivan after the favourite came from 6-3 down to beat Stephen Maguire 10-7.
The Rocket is chasing his sixth world title and has dominated the sport this season with The Masters - where he lost to Allen- the only major blot on his copybook.
However, he knows he will have to play far better than he did against Maguire if he is to pull through after a poor start to the match which left him trailing.
"It was so embarrassing in that first session, I felt like giving the people all their money back," he said.
"I was really gutted because they took a Saturday afternoon to watch some snooker, and thank God Stephen potted some balls."
In last night's late session Kyren Wilson saw off the challenge of Matthew Stevens, winning 10-3.