Last night, the World’s Number Seven and Belfast born Mark Allen reeled out of the first round of the Northern Ireland Open courtesy of twenty-four-year-old Niu Zhuang from China.
Zhuang was beating Allen 3-1, when Allen had the opportunity to turn it around, when he forced two snookers to breathe new life into the game. However, Zhuang achieved a double on the blue to claim the surprise win. Zhuang was ranked 90th in World going into the Northern Ireland Open so it is a fantastic achievement for the young player to knock out an opponent such as Allen in the first round.
Allen will be disappointed with his performance after achieving his first triple crown this year at the 2018 Masters, but he will surely dust himself off for the upcoming UK Championship which starts on November 27th.
Other shock departures include Rory McLeod, who beat John Higgins for the first time in his career. From 2-1 down, McLeod won three frames in a row to advance. Stephen Maguire was another big-name casualty in the first round as Micheal Holt got the better of their encounter to win 4-2 while Anthony MaGill was whitewashed 4-0 by Alexander Ursenbacher. Barry Hawkins also suffered an early exit when he lost 4-3 to rookie to Chen Zifan.