Luca Brecel’s hopes of winning back-to-back Home Nations titles ended prematurely as he lost 4-2 to Rory McLeod in the qualifying round of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
Belgium’s Brecel won the BetVictor Scottish Open in December, but this time he won’t even be at the final venue having lost to a player ranked 66 places below him in world number 82 McLeod.
A break of 54 helped McLeod build a 3-1 lead. Brecel pulled one back and had chances to make it 3-3, but McLeod eventually took frame six on the final black to progress to the last 64.
BetVictor Shoot Out champion Hossein Vafaei narrowly avoided defeat as he came from 3-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-3. Breaks of 74 and 64 got Vafaei back to 3-3, then he won an exciting decider on the final black after both players had missed chances.
Anthony Hamilton top scored with 105 in a 4-3 defeat of Lyu Haotian while Mark Davis made a 124 in the decider to edge out Alfie Burden 4-3. Two Welsh players secured places in their home event as Andrew Pagett saw off Simon Lichtenberg 4-0 and Jak Jones earned a 4-1 victory over Sunny Akani.
The qualifying round runs throughout this week in Wolverhampton, with players needing to win one match to book a place at the final stages at ICC Wales in Newport. The top 16 seeds are seeded through to the final stages which run from February 28 to March 6 – for ticket details click here.
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