Judd Trump believes the door is still wide open for an upset at the UK Championship despite the world number one easing into the last 16 on Monday.
Trump had no issue securing a 6-1 win over Liang Wenbo to set up a meeting with either Mark Williams or Ricky Walden, but believes the strange atmosphere of playing behind closed doors in Milton Keynes is levelling the playing field.
“There’s a great chance for anyone lower in the rankings to get their hands on the UK title,” Trump said.
“Where they might normally find it a little bit more difficult in front of big crowds and in front of the cameras, there’s a great chance for them to come through and nick this title.”
Trump at least made sure Liang never had a chance, with three half-century breaks helping keep him on top throughout.
Liang got on the board with a break of 74 to pull it back to 3-1 before the break, but it was all Trump once they resumed and in the final frame he saw a 147 attempt ended on 89.
“It got a bit exciting towards the end, but that was all the excitement in the game,” he said. “It really wasn’t a particularly great game. We both struggled and it was just to-ing and fro-ing until the end of the game and I managed to get it over the line.
“I’ll just put that one behind me and look forward to the rest of the event.”
“A couple of players have given me the game,” he said. “I’d been switching off and thinking these guys are not really going to punish me.
“That can be dangerous because in the next couple of rounds guys are going to play well. I’m hoping my game is there to kick in.”
In the evening session, Graeme Dott enjoyed a 6-2 win over Stuart Bingham, while Neil Robertson saw off Li Hang by the same margin.
David Grace, who dispatched defending champion Ding Junhui on Saturday, saw his challenge ended in a 6-3 loss to Xiao Guodong, while Anthony McGill beat Chen Zifan 6-1.