Neil Robertson felt as if he was “walking on a bouncy castle” just days ago when he suffered from pulsatile tinnitus, but his health is much improved and his game remains in good shape as he proved with a 4-0 drubbing of Noppon Saengkham in the first round of the Cazoo World Grand Prix.
Pulsatile tinnitus is a rhythmic throbbing at the same rate as the heart beat, heard in both ears. Fortunately for Australia’s Robertson, he seems to be through the worst of this unpleasant condition.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks,” explained the 39-year-old. “I was building up for the defence of the UK Championship, then on the eve of it, this cropped up. Even if I had won my first match there I would have had to withdraw. For the next few days I felt as if I was walking on a bouncy castle, my balance was all over the place. They put me on steroids for a week and I had to pull out of the Scottish Open.
“I still have a a little bit of ringing in the ears in the morning, but nowhere near as bad as it was. And the pulsing has stopped, with my heart racing a million beats a minute for no reason. Hopefully it stays the way it is now.
“For the past week I have been able to practise. I tried to gradually extend my practice time, bit by bit during the week. I was a still a bit dizzy until the last five or six days when I was back to normal. I’m happy to be in this event because it’s a fantastic tournament to be involved in.”
There were few flaws in Robertson’s game on the table as the former World Champion knocked in breaks of 54, 65 and 100 in a comfortable win over Saengkham. His next opponent will be Anthony Hamilton.
Defending champion Judd Trump recovered from a slow start to beat Ben Woollaston 4-2. A break of 90 put Woollaston 2-1 ahead, before world number two Trump took three in a row with top breaks of 60 and 53.
Trump’s next opponent is Tom Ford, who scored a surprise 4-2 win over John Higgins. Over the past two months, Higgins has contested four finals but lost all four, most recently his BetVictor Scottish Open clash with Luca Brecel last Sunday.
And this time Scotland’s Higgins fell at the first hurdle, losing a high quality contest against Leicester’s Ford. A run of 75 gave Ford the opening frame, then Higgins won two of the next three with breaks of 66 and 81. Ford, a semi-finalist in this event in 2020, shut his opponent out from 2-2, making 71 and 130 to take the last two frames.
World Champion Mark Selby battled to a 4-1 success over Barry Hawkins. Selby is yet to reach the quarter-finals of any ranking event this season, but will make the last eight this time if he beats Mark Allen. Hawkins missed the final pink at the end of a 47-minute opening frame, allowing Selby to go 1-0 ahead. A break of 76 drew Hawkins level, but Selby dominated the remainder of the match, taking the last three frames with a top break of 51.
Stephen Maguire won a Glasgow derby against Anthony McGill by a 4-0 scoreline, though it was a fragmented match with only one break over 50: a 64 from Maguire in frame two. In the second round, Maguire will face Jack Lisowski.
Ali Carter top scored with 77 in a 4-1 win over David Gilbert, while Stuart Bingham edged out Ricky Walden 4-3 with best breaks of 96, 65, 93 and 124. Allen saw off Cao Yupeng 4-1 with a top break of 114.
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