Snooker: Carter sees off Davis challenge

Defending champion Ali Carter eased into the second round of the Welsh Open last night with a 5-1 win over Mark Davis at the Newport Centre.

Carter, who is clinging onto his place in the world's top five after a poor start to the season, got straight into his stride with a break of 120 to take the opening frame.

Although Sussex man Davis hit back to level the match, Carter regained control and sailed through the rest of a scrappy match with a second-highest break of 57.

Widnes potter Andrew Higginson pulled off more Welsh Open heroics to reach the second round after a 5-2 win over world number eight Marco Fu.

Higginson caused a stir in the same tournament in 2007 when as a 500-1 outsider he reached the final, where he lost a final frame decider to Neil Robertson.

And Higginson had too much for Fu, racing into a 4-1 lead and holding off a minor fightback by the Hong Kong star to book his place in round two.

Earlier, world number 17 Barry Hawkins whitewashed 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon 5-0 for one of the best wins of the 30-year-old's career.

A break of 85 in the first frame set the tone and he raced into a 3-0 lead. Even an Ebdon break of 50 was not enough to win the fourth frame as Hawkins replied with a break of 64.

Hawkins closed out the match with a 33 clearance in the fifth and the man from Dartford, who has never won a ranking tournament but has twice been a semi-finalist in the Welsh Open in 2005 and 2006, kept his dream alive of success in south Wales.

Joining Hawkins in the second round was Australia's Neil Robertson, who beat Liu Song of China 5-2.

World number nine Robertson is ranked 50 places above his Chinese opponent and it certainly showed in the opening frame as he outscored Song 134-0.

Song hit back and tied the match at 2-2, but 2007 Welsh Open champion Robertson turned the match decisively in his favour with a break of 129 in the fifth frame and never looked back.

Home favourite Matthew Stevens, ranked 26th in the world, edged into the first round proper with a 5-4 win over Barry Pinches in a qualifier.

Breaks of 61 and 80 helped Pinches claim a 1-0 and 2-1 advantage before Stevens forged ahead in the fifth frame with an 87 break.

It came down to a deciding final frame which the Welshman won, largely thanks to a 44 break, in a match which lasted three hours and 49 minutes.