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David Gilbert is relishing the prospect of another epic “blow-out” after breezing into the second round of the World Championship with a 10-4 win over Chris Wakelin.
The former semi-finalist has admitted struggling through the last year on and off the table with the lockdown restrictions playing havoc with his regular post-event routine.
But the return of fans and the imminent further easing of restrictions have given Gilbert reasons to be cheerful, as have the three centuries and five further 50-plus breaks which saw him ease past Wakelin.
Gilbert said: “I’ve changed my routine from how it used to be – whether I did well or not I used to go out with the lads and enjoy myself and have a blow-out.
“I was just missing those blow-outs, and when I had two weeks off from a tournament I’d sit in my garage all night with my beer fridge and the disco ball on and let some steam off.
“I’m tee-total while I’m in this (tournament), but as soon as I’m out of it or I’ve won it I won’t be, don’t worry about that.”
Gilbert resumed 7-2 ahead of his close friend after a glittering first-day display, but Wakelin dug in to reduce the deficit with two half-centuries of his own in the first two frames upon the resumption.
But Gilbert finished off with a break of 84 to potentially book a second-round meeting with Judd Trump.
Four-time champion John Higgins faces a battle to stay in the tournament as he trails China’s world number 53 Tian Pengfei 4-3 after a below-par opening session.
Things could have been worse for Higgins – who trailed 4-1 before clawing back the deficit – but play was so slow the session was curtailed two frames early.
Successive century breaks from Yan Bingtao helped him ease past Martin Gould in the morning session.
Resuming at 4-4 from Saturday’s opening session, the reigning Masters champion dominated proceedings and breaks of 130 and 116 in frames 11 and 12 put him on the road to a 10-6 victory.
Anthony McGill held a slender 5-4 advantage after the first session of his first-round match with Ricky Walden.
Walden posted successive centuries in a run of three frames in a row to go 3-2 in front before McGill hit back, scoring 119 and then an 88.