World Snooker Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins has got off to a respectable start to his season by reaching the Last 16 on the first day in Sofia.
Barely a month after the end of the 2012/13 season, several top players were back in action last week at qualifying matches for the Australian Open and Wuxi Classic, but this week’s European Tour event was the first full tournament for the world’s best. Hawkins was just one of the top stars forced to begin events at the very beginning by World Snooker and did admirably, seeing off Alexander Ursenbacher from Switzerland without dropping off a frame. He then defeated Kyren Wilson before edging Gary Wilson in a tight Last 32 game. He goes into the fourth round against Nigel Bond.
Hawkins won’t be seeing the man who defeated him in the Worlds, Ronnie O’Sullivan, unless he reaches the later knockout stages, with the world champion nestled in the bottom half of the draw. He will, however, have to see the likes of Matthew Stevens and Australia’s Neil Robertson before long.
They may have already lost all hope of reaching the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but Gordon Strachan’s Scotland side pulled off a surprise victory in the qualifiers last night by beating Croatia 1-0. Norwich City’s Robert Snodgrass gifted the Scots their first win in the tournament, but the performance was gutsy and belied their league position. Having prevented their higher-ranked opponents from pulling off any shot of note, Scotland are now given a more favourable position in the draw for Euro 2016.
The Criterium du Daphiné edges closer to its conclusion, with Chris Froome still holding the yellow jersey with a gap of 52 seconds and is second in the points classification. Andrew Selby is the last man standing in the European Boxing Championships and is guaranteed at least a silver medal in the 52kg class, as Jack Bateson and Joseph Joyce were knocked out, the latter quite literally in the first round by Sergey Kuzmin of Russia.
Lakeside Hammers.. hammered the visiting Poole Pirates in a surprise speedway win 60-32. It was much closer for the Coventry Bees at home, welcoming the King’s Lynn Stars and only edging the meeting 47-43. Following two rounds of squash’s Barossa Valley Open, Adam Auckland is the last Englishman standing, beating countryman Nick Mulvey, a qualifier, on the way.
Second seeds Lucy Boulton and Zara Dampney have negotiated their way to a third round match in the Montpellier beach volleyball satellite, beating French and Slovenian pairs on the way. Wes Newton pulled off the win of the third round of the UK Darts Open, beating Simon Whitlock 9-4 whilst defending champion Robert Thornton defeated Matthew Edgar 9-7. Scott Brash achieved a second place at the Global Champions Tour showjumping event in London, Hull KR surprised the in-form Huddersfield Giants in the Super League with a 35-28 win and Ian Poulter climbed to tenth in golf’s Lyoness Open on the PGA Tour.