Ali Carter said he is a “different animal” heading into the closing stretch of this campaign compared to last season, after recording a hard fought 4-2 win over John Astley at the BetVictor Gibraltar Open.
The Captain was making his first appearance since he was forced to withdraw from the recent BetVictor Welsh Open at the quarter-final stage due to migraines. Prior to pulling out, Carter had been set for a blockbuster clash against Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last eight.
Carter’s draw for this week originally pitted him against O’Sullivan in the opening round, but the Rocket pulled out and Astley stepped in to replace him.
After taking the opening frame this afternoon, Carter composed a run of 60 to double his lead and make it 2-0. His advantage was halved, before a break of 61 moved Carter a frame from victory at 3-1. Astley pulled within one, but Carter closed the door with a fine contribution of 75 to wrap up the win.
After the match Carter admitted he is highly motivated to try and qualify for the upcoming World Championship, having missed out on a place at the Crucible last year. It was the first time Carter failed to gain a spot at the Theatre of Dreams since 2002. The qualifiers kick off on April 7th.
Carter said: “I’m bang up for it this year. Last year I wasn’t in the right place going into the qualifiers. Being in lockdown, being in the bubble in Sheffield, nobody watching. When you have been a pro for 20 years, that was all fairly new. We are a year down the line now and this has become the new normal. I hope it doesn’t stay the new normal, but I am a different animal leading into the world qualifiers this year.
“It is another good event this week. The goal was to get a few matches under my belt and go from there. I’m working hard and looking forward to the Championship League Winners’ Group. That is six matches against top class opponents, it is perfect paid practice. I know my game is going to be sharp.”
Chinese teenager Lei Peifan produced a shock 4-2 defeat of Triple Crown winner Neil Robertson. Lei made breaks of 54, 80, 51 and 56 on his way to victory. Next up he’ll face Welsh amateur Dylan Emery, who whitewashed Ben Hancorn 4-0.
Stuart Bingham defeated Gerard Greene 4-0 and set up an intriguing second round clash with Jimmy White. The 2015 World Champion made breaks of 66 and 86 on his way to this morning’s whitewash win.
World number 25 Scott Donaldson fired in a superb break of 140 in the winning frame to beat former World Seniors champion Peter Lines 4-2, while Anthony McGill whitewashed Louis Heathcote 4-0.