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Sunday 17 December 2017

Selby survives scare to sneak through in Wales

SNOOKER: World number one Mark Selby got a huge let-off as he overcame the unfancied Sam Baird 4-3 in the opening round of the Welsh Open in Newport last night.

A missed blue off the spot cost Baird the sixth frame and a 4-2 victory, and Selby then took the seventh after a nervous finish.

Selby, far from his fluent best, should have cruised to the finish in the deciding frame, but key misses gave Baird hope, only for an untimely miscue to let Selby off the hook.

Baird, the world number 82, had trailed 2-1 but used big breaks, including an 85 in the fifth, to turn the match around.

If the number one was struggling, the number two was not much better, as Mark Williams squeezed past Andy Hicks 4-3.

The two-time world champion from Wales trailed three times to the Devon cueman, but the Englishman was unable to get over the line.

A break of 47 saw Hicks nick a scrappy first frame, but a knock of 64 was enough to get Williams back level. Hicks edged ahead again but Williams soon restored parity.

A break of 53 put Hicks 3-2 up but Williams scraped back level before a solid deciding frame saw him sneak into round two, where he will face Ronnie O'Sullivan or Marco Fu.

"I missed about 10 easy balls and Andy will be disappointed that he didn't punish me," Williams said.

Stephen Hendry turned back the clock in a 4-1 defeat of world number four Neil Robertson.

A break of 62 gave Hendry victory in the opening frame, and though Robertson bounced back with a 135, Hendry won the final three frames to set up a meeting with Mark Allen or Ken Doherty.

Stephen Lee overcame fellow Englishman Michael Holt 4-1.

Martin Gould also progressed with a 4-2 victory over Peter Ebdon, while Stuart Bingham beat Mark King by the same score.

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