Mark Selby’s intention to play at a faster pace paid dividends as he white-washed Fan Zhengyi 4-0 to start the defence of his Matchroom.Live English Open title in perfect fashion.
Selby already has one trophy in the cabinet this season having won the BetVictor European Masters last month, and is full of confidence as he aims to make it back-to-back titles. He meets Chang Bingyu or Aaron Hill in the last 64.
His coach Chris Henry has encouraged the world number four to play at a faster pace and trust his natural ability.
“If you play on instinct it gives you a better chance of playing well,” said Selby, who made a top break of 70 today and averaged 20.6 seconds a shot. “Otherwise you can over-think and that can lead to anxiety and muscle tension. I am trying to just see the shot and play it, rather than having a look around the table first and trying to work the break out. I have never done that in the past so it was alien to me at first, but I am getting used to it now.
“On the practice table I play with a nice rhythm, then in the past I was getting to tournaments and trying too hard, as if it was life or death. There are a lot worse things going on in the world than a game of snooker. So I’m just trying to bring that same rhythm and attitude that I have in practice out there on the match table.”
Selby beat David Gilbert 9-1 in the final of this event last year, ending a long title drought, and has since won two other ranking events. “On and off the table I feel more calm with myself,” added the 37-year-old from Leicester. “Before, I was getting frustrated and anxious out there, missing balls and getting nervous. Now I’m at ease with everything I’m doing. If I miss balls it’s easier to accept because I know how to correct it.”
Ding Junhui came from 3-0 down to beat Si Jiahui 4-3 in a Chinese derby. Si, sporting a blue haircut, had chances for victory but couldn’t take them as Ding fired breaks of 77, 50, 66 and 53 to win the last four frames.
Neil Robertson’s route into round two was far easier as he saw off Lyu Haotian 4-0 with top runs of 114, 87 and 86.
Michael Holt top scored with 66 in a 4-1 defeat of Jimmy White while Joe Perry made the highest break so far, 139, in a 4-1 win over Riley Parsons.
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