Snooker: Revenge is sweet for Davis: Old guard take their stand against the challenge of a new generation

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The Independent Online
THE problem with precedents is repeating them. Peter Ebdon was the outstanding figure in the opening week of the Embassy World Championship 12 months ago, his pony-tail a symbol for the new generation sweeping aside snooker's establishment. Last night he was just a first-round loser.

The outcome was different, the opponent the same. The victory over Steve Davis, the six-times world champion, last year projected Ebdon's name far beyond Sheffield, but injuring that particular pride was always likely to prove dangerous. Last night Davis extracted revenge, winning 10-3.

It was a defeat that, by the end, was as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests, Davis winning six frames in a row from 4-3. 'It was nothing personal,' he said, 'if you take grudges on to a snooker table you are not going to be able to play. I was just happy to play some relaxed snooker.'

Another man hardly reaching for the tranquilisers was Terry Griffiths. He bypassed David Roe 10-6 to remind everyone that 45-year-olds need not necessarily be pensioned off in a sport where middle-age and puberty seem to be charging towards each other at an alarming velocity.

The Welshman is part of a fast disappearing breed: a player who worked at something other than his cue action. He was a miner, a bus conductor and a postman before he took the coin and won the world title at his first attempt in 1979. He turned professional as he turned 30; Ronnie O'Sullivan, another player here, is a full-fledged pro at 17. There is enough about Griffiths, however, to nullify youthful bravado and confidence borne of a low rank and everything to gain.

'I'm difficult to perform against,' he said after his 10-6 victory over David Roe. 'I disrupt the play, slow things down and tie opponents up with safety shots.' He was so awkward against Roe the scoreline did him an injustice.

Griffiths, chipping away with breaks in the 40s rather than the 100s, was 6-0 and 9-4 in front before Roe, who is 18 years his junior, revived. The last frame was classic Griffiths, a 64-19 win with six visits to the table none of which yielded more than 25.

James Wattana, the seventh seed, had a less comfortable day, scraping through 10-7 against Tony Jones for a victory, he said, he did not deserve. 'I don't know why but the touch wasn't there,' he said. 'Tony played better than I did. I will need to produce something more.'

EMBASSY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Sheffield) First round: T Griffiths (Wal) bt D Roe (Eng) 10-6; J Wattana (Thai) bt T Jones (Eng) 10-7; S Davis (Eng) bt P Ebdon (Eng) 10-3.

(Photograph omitted)