Snooker: Hunter repays welcome with battling first session

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Paul Hunter held a slender 5-4 lead over Michael Holt at the end of an emotional opening session in their world championship first-round match yesterday.

Paul Hunter held a slender 5-4 lead over Michael Holt at the end of an emotional opening session in their world championship first-round match yesterday.

Hunter, the world No 4, who recently announced he has been diagnosed with colon cancer, received an enthusiastic welcome from the Crucible crowd as he entered the arena. "It was a great reception and I appreciate all the support I'm getting," Hunter said.

Holt won two of the first three frames before Hunter led for the first time in the match at 3-2. A break of 74 saw Hunter go 4-2 up, but Holt kept in touch by winning two of the last three frames. The best-of-19-frames match ends today.

Hunter could withdraw if tests show an immediate course of chemotherapy is required. "He seems to be handling things quite well. We had a laugh out there," Holt said. "The crowd want him to do well ­ it's nothing personal. If it made any difference to his health I would lose 10-0. But it won't so I've got to try and win."

Alan McManus was a relieved man at reaching the second round after beating his fellow Scot Drew Henry 10-9. "I thought at 9-8 down it was curtains," he said. He is joined by Matthew Stevens, who beat Andy Hicks 10-5, and the veteran Steve Davis, who edged out Gerard Greene 10-9.

Ronnie O'Sullivan produced a startling fightback to beat Stephen Maguire 10-9 on Saturday.

Maguire, the UK champion, missed a blackthat would have sealed a 10-7 win. O'Sullivan made the most of his reprieve with a 35 clearance, then levelled the match at 9-9 with a break of 74 before making 68 to win the decider.

Embassy World Championship (Sheffield): Today's order of play: 10am: C Small (Sco) v S Murphy (Eng); K Doherty (Irl) v B Pinches (Eng). 2.30pm: P Hunter (Eng) v M Holt (Eng), J White (Eng) v F O'Brien (Irl). 7pm: K Doherty (Irl) v B Pinches (Eng); JHiggins (Sco) v M Selby (Eng).

Comments