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Page last updated at 07:37 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 08:37 UK

Peter Ebdon drops out of top 16 with Crucible defeat

Date: 17 April-3 May 2010 Venue: The Crucible, Sheffield
Coverage: Live coverage each day on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website (UK only), updates on BBC Radio 5 Live. Full TV schedule

Peter Ebdon
Ebdon has endured a difficult season

Former world champion Peter Ebdon has dropped out of the top 16 for the first time since 1994 after losing 10-5 to Graeme Dott at the Crucible.

The 39-year-old's first-round defeat in Sheffield means he will have to qualify for ranking tournaments next season.

"I'm bitterly disappointed but also very proud to have been in for so long," said the 2002 world champion.

Meanwhile, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui and Mark Davis all made it through to the second round of the Championship.

Robertson ground out a 10-5 win over Fergal O'Brien, while Ding cruised to a comprehensive 10-1 demolition of Stuart Pettman.

Davis beat Wales' Ryan Day 10-8 to reach the second round for the second time in his career.

Stephen Maguire will begin the sixth day of the tournament with a 6-3 lead over Stephen Lee with Shaun Murphy looking on course to meet Ding in the second round having built an 8-1 advantage over Gerard Greene.

But the big story of the day was Ebdon's fall out of the elite of the game after losing to Scotland's Dott in a repeat of the 2006 final.

The world number 28 began the session with a commanding 7-2 lead which Ebdon, who had been at 14 in the world rankings, ate into by winning three of the opening four frames.

Ebdon looked as if he might close to 8-6, but his attempt to overhaul Dott in the 14th floundered after a red refused to drop into the middle pocket.

Knowsley 2009

"Graeme is one of the toughest men to beat and somebody is going to have to play really well to beat him in this tournament," said Ebdon.

Dott will face the winner of Maguire and Lee's match in the next round.

Australia's Robertson is usually known for his fluent potting, but he needed to grind out victory over O'Brien with an epic 69-minute frame clocking in as the third longest in Crucible history.

Robertson led 6-3 overnight but was almost pegged back level before taking the final four frames for victory.

After breaks of 58 and 64 in the day's opening frames had moved Dublin's O'Brien to within striking distance, Robertson's relief was visible as he celebrated a break of 34 to move 7-5 clear.

The third-longest frame in Crucible history followed with the black respotted after the players finished locked together at 70-70 with the table clear.

Fergal O'Brien fouls

Honesty costs O'Brien key frame

O'Brien admitted a barely visible foul on the black earlier in the frame and suffered for his sportsmanship as his double kiss allowed Robertson to extend his lead.

The Australian world number nine duly rattled off the final two frames and in the second round faces qualifier Martin Gould, who beat Marco Fu 10-9 in round one.

"It felt like trying to get a piece of chewing gum out of a carpet. It was a really, really tough match," said Robertson.

"That frame that went on for nearly an hour and 10 minutes was just absolutely unbelievable.

"I don't know how long we were on the yellow and green for but it felt like other tables were going through all their frames and we were still on one ball."

Ding is bidding to become the first man from outside the British Isles to lift the trophy since Cliff Thorburn in 1980 and has been billed as one of the favourites after a season in which he has won more ranking points than any other player.

Ding Junhui
Ding has won more ranking points than anyone else this season

And he demonstrated why with a break of 88 in the opening frame of Wednesday's brief session before clinching a scrappy 11th frame to complete his win.

As China was observing a day of national mourning for the more than 2,000 people who died in the recent earthquake in Qinghai province, Ding requested that no music was played when the players entered the arena on Wednesday morning.

"Lots of people died," he said. "I heard the bad news a few days ago and I asked for no music."

Ding admitted he was expecting a much tougher challenge in the second round, in which he clearly expects to face last year's runner-up Murphy.

Stuart Pettman misses an easy pink

Simple Pettman miss seals Ding win

"I don't know what happened to him [Pettman]," he said. "He was leaving many balls and leaving me easy ones.

"It will be very hard in the second round. Murphy is a good player in attack and safety. Everything is good. He's not going to leave me easy ones. He's beaten me many times so he'll have a lot of confidence if he plays me."

Davis had only reached the second round once previously, when he lost to Ebdon in 1995. He also qualified in 1997, 2001 and 2008, only to lose in the first round on each occasion.

But the 37-year-old is enjoying the best season of his career while world number six Day, who is the third seed to crash out, has struggled for form.

The Hastings cueman, who will face Northern Ireland's Mark Allen in the second round in Sheffield, said a new fitness regime had helped him.

"I've been getting a lot fitter which has helped," Davis said. "I did a half-marathon a month ago back home so that has certainly helped, it keeps you a bit sharper."

Lee had been given extra motivation for his contest by Maguire's pre-match criticism of his slow play.

But it was the Scot who raced into a 3-0 lead and, despite a mid-session fightback from Lee, restored a three-frame cushion by the end of play.

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see also
Final scores from the Crucible
20 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Frustrated Day bemoans poor year
22 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Davis defeats King in final frame
21 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Gritty Williams sees off Campbell
19 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Ask the experts
29 Apr 10 |  Snooker
World Championship results
15 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Century breaks
17 Apr 10 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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Gulf Daily News Allen makes break of 146 - 40 mins ago
New Straits Times Robertson wins after lengthy opener - 7 hrs ago
RTE Online Steve Davis thinks he can prosper at Crucible - 20 hrs ago
Press Association Robertson pleased to come through sticky patch - 25 hrs ago
Breaking Robertson happy to overcome 'sticky patch' - 25 hrs ago