Neil Robertson became the biggest first-round casualty at the European Masters in Lommel as he lost 4-2 to Andrew Higginson in a high-quality battle.
The Australian has made a pleasing start to the new season, including a ranking success at the Riga Masters, and has climbed backed to tenth in the world rankings as a result, but the 2010 world champion came off worst in a high-scoring affair with Higginson.
Having failed to qualify for the Riga Masters and the China Championship, Higginson, 40, had not shown the sort of form this season that suggested he might upset the ‘Thunder from Down Under’ and Robertson got off to a perfect start when he won the opening frame with a break of 81.
Widnes potter Higginson then kept his opponent scoreless whilst notching contributions of 56 and 88 to grab the lead but Robertson again showed his well-being with an 87 clearance to leave them tied at the interval in Lommel and returning for a best-of-three shootout.
Robertson had chances to regain the lead but, with both players making mistakes, a scrappy fifth frame arguably might have been the most important of the match and it was Higginson who pinched it, 66-65, when potting the black.
The Australian had the first bite at frame six but he couldn’t get enough points on the board and when Higginson got his chance, he duly counter-attacked with a fine break of 76 to take the frame and match and send the former Crucible champion packing.
Higginson moves on to round two where he will face Joe Perry on Wednesday.