SHEFFIELD — China’s Ding Junhui moved into a narrow 3-2 lead in the early stages of his World Championship first round match against Wales’ Ryan Day here Tuesday.
With Mark Allen accusing Chinese players of cheating following a first round defeat by Cao Yupeng, double UK champion Ding came into the Crucible Theatre under arguably greater scrutiny than at any time in his career.
But there was no hint of controversy, with Ding going 3-2 in front thanks to a fifth frame break of exactly 100.
Meanwhile, tournament favourite Judd Trump, last year’s beaten finalist, fell 3-1 behind to Wales’ Dominic Dale.
Trump, who won the UK in December to claim snooker’s second most important title, was understood to be suffering from food poisoning Tuesday and looked a long way off his best.
Away from the tables, the snooker world was still coming to terms with the fall-out from Allen’s outspoken remarks. Allen was adamant Cao, who won 10-6, should have called a foul against himself during the opening frame of Sunday’s session when the Chinese was just 5-4 ahead.
He then risked further controversy by saying: “It seems to be a bit of a trait for the Chinese players because there’ve been instances in the past, of fouls and blatant cheating going on. It needs to be corrected.”
China is seen as a huge growth area for snooker.
But Allen has already angered Chinese snooker chiefs, saying Hainan, the island venue for the World Open, was “horrendous” and the people “ignorant”.
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, who has himself felt the rough edge of Allen’s tongue this season, urged officials to take the comments seriously, saying they risked the livelihoods of his fellow professionals.
“This is a very good time to be a snooker player,” Hearn said. “It’s not a good time to be an idiot.”
On Monday, record-breaking teenager Luca Brecel’s maiden World Championship ended in defeat by Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.
At 17 years and 45 days, the rising Belgian star became the youngest player in the history of the tournament, but despite making a century in Sunday’s first session he lost 10-5 to world No. 7 and former semifinalist Maguire.
Meanwhile, experienced Hong Kong potter Marco Fu was in danger of suffering a humiliating first round whitewash against Matthew Stevens after falling 8-0 behind to the Welshman, twice a World Championship runner-up.
Meanwhile Ronnie O’Sullivan surged into a 7-2 lead over Peter Ebdon in an eagerly anticipated clash between the former champions. — Agencies