Snooker news - Defending champion Mark Allen loses to Luca Brecel in Masters opener
Defending champion Mark Allen is out of the Masters in the first round after losing 6-5 to Belgium’s Luca Brecel after an epic battle in the first round.
Northern Irishman Allen produced breaks of 67, 96, 136, 83 and 99 at Alexandra Palace in London yet still somehow lost a match dripping with quality that finished in only two hours and three minutes.
An 83 saw Allen – finalist in the UK Championship and winner of the Scottish Open last month – level at 4-4 before the pair traded breaks with an 88 from Brecel quickly cancelled out by Allen’s 99 run in the 10th frame.
Allen - who lifted the celebrated invitational trophy with a 10-7 win over Kyren Wilson a year ago - had never led in the match, and was destined to lose it as Brecel pounced with 58 for a 6-5 victory after a sparkling long red when a safety escape seemed harder.
The pot success rate from both men was 93 percent, summing a quite fabulous opening match at the Masters, the sport’s biggest invitational event.
Allen cannot be too despondent having produced some stirring snooker in defeat.
Brecel will face Ding Junhui or Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals as he bids to become the first overseas winner of the tournament since Australia’s Neil Robertson in 2012.
The second match of this year's tournament saw John Higgins face Welshman Ryan Day.
Higgins raced into a 3-1 lead in a match of the highest quality.
However, Day responded and the best-of-11 encounter went to a decisive frame late on Sunday evening at Ally Pally. And a brilliant closing break of 128 saw Day complete his comeback and progress to the next round.
MASTERS FIRST ROUND
- Mark Allen 5-6 Luca Brecel
- Ding Junhui v Jack Lisowski
- John Higgins 5-6 Ryan Day
- Ronnie O'Sullivan v Stuart Bingham
- Mark Selby v Stephen Maguire
- Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson
- Barry Hawkins v Shaun Murphy
- Mark Williams v Neil Robertson