Champions Progress On Day One at the Crucible

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Jimmy White, Ken Doherty, Darren Morgan and Aaron Canavan all advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2020 ROKiT Phones World Seniors Snooker Championship during the tournament’s opening day at the Crucible Theatre.

Reigning champion White began his title defence with a 4-1 victory over 1986 world professional champion Joe Johnson in the evening session.

Johnson defeated White here on his way to winning last year’s Seniors Masters, and the Yorkshireman briefly threatened a replay when he claimed a scrappy first frame of the match on the pink. However, ‘The Whirlwind’ managed to relax, making a 90 break to get on the board himself before racking up further contributions of 73, 41 and 71 to run out a 4-1 victor with an impressive 92% pot success rate.

In the competition’s curtain-raiser, 1997 world professional champion Ken Doherty survived a mid-match blip and a deciding frame climax to oust fellow Irishman Rodney Goggins 4-3.

‘The Darling of Dublin’ pounced on his opponent’s nervy start to take a 2-0 lead, but looking like going one frame away from progression, an unexpected miss from Doherty seemed to turn the match. Crucible debutant Goggins – who started the frame with a 41 – finished it with a 58 clearance to open his account and settle down. The former professional from Wexford continued to grow in confidence, winning the next two frames to go one away from producing an upset.

Well known for his determination when behind – especially at this venue – Doherty bounced back with a 68 to force a decider and then crafted a gutsy match-clinching break of 48 to ultimately go through.

“For a couple of frames there I was gone. I just tried to dig myself out of it and I was delighted with the 60 break in frame six and some of the pots at the end.” said Doherty to Rob Walker after the match.

Doherty is seeking to create history later this week by becoming the first person to win the world junior, amateur, professional and seniors championships.

After enduring a slow start to his match with Northern Ireland’s Patrick Wallace, 2011 winner and a further two-time finalist Darren Morgan found his groove with a string of soul boosting breaks to come through 4-2.

The former world number eight fashioned efforts of 73, 75 (twice) and a 70 in a frame that the Welshman lost on the black despite his opponent needing penalty points. Morgan – who will face Doherty in the quarter-finals – said “from nowhere it clicked”.

The final player to book a last eight berth was 2018 winner Canavan, who once again showed his baize battling qualities to overcome Leo Fernandez in a post-midnight finish.

Having started in the afternoon but pushed into an unscheduled second session, Fernandez led the match on three occasions but the Jersey cueist pegged him back each time, assisted by breaks of 69, 53 and a match-saving break of 30 to pink in frame six to take it all the way.

Canavan then scored first in the decider with a 48, and after his rival missed a routine red later on, he held his nerve to complete a dramatic recovery and avenge his loss to Fernandez here last year.

Fans around the world can watch the event live. For the first time the 16-player event will be broadcast live on BBC digital platforms with selected matches available on the ‘Red Button’. Coverage in China will be shown on major digital TV platforms and elsewhere the event will be available on the  Matchroom.Live network.

Go to Matchroom.Live to register. The Matchroom Live platform was launched in May, giving fans across the planet the chance to watch live content from the outstanding portfolio of Matchroom sports, including snooker, darts, boxing, pool and many more. There is also a wealth of classic archive content featuring great moments from the past 40 years.