Mark Allen share a stunning claims as he extends Northern Ireland Open streak over Ben Mertens …

Mark Allen has extended his impressive streak in the Northern Ireland Open by defeating Ben Mertens 4-0 as the venue stages of the tournament began in Belfast on Sunday.

Allen, hailing from Antrim, has secured the Alex Higgins Trophy in the last two editions of this ranking event on his home turf at the Waterfront Hall. Although he didn’t perform at his highest-scoring level, breaks of 54 and 55 helped him achieve a decisive 4-0 victory over the young Belgian.

This victory marks Allen’s 15th consecutive win in the Home Nations series event, an impressive feat. With several prominent players not participating in this year’s Northern Ireland Open, Allen is optimistic about his chances of securing a rare hat-trick in the same tournament for two consecutive seasons. The last player to achieve this was Judd Trump, who won three Northern Ireland Open titles in a row between 2018 and 2020.

Trump, the world number three, is aiming for a different kind of hat-trick this week by attempting to become only the fifth player in history to win three consecutive ranking events on the calendar. His victories in the English and Wuhan Opens earlier this month have made him the most in-form competitor on the circuit.

Other notable players who advanced in the competition after their opening tests included Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy. Williams, the champion from six years ago, defeated Tian Pengfei 4-1, while Murphy had to work harder for his 4-2 victory over Ryan Thomerson. Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski, David Gilbert, and Anthony McGill also progressed, with McGill earning a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Jimmy White.

However, there were some upsets in the tournament, with Kyren Wilson, Robert Milkins, and Ryan Day all being eliminated in the first round. Wilson faced another loss, this time a 4-3 defeat to Sam Craigie, while Milkins and Day were defeated in deciding frames by Cao Yupeng and Ma Hailong, respectively.

Mark Allen extends Northern Ireland Open streak - SnookerHQ

Ricky Walden, Gary Wilson, and Rory McLeod all advanced to the last 64. McLeod replaced the world number one, Ronnie O’Sullivan, who withdrew on the eve of the competition.

In addition, local amateur Robbie McGuigan secured a 4-1 victory over Muhammad Asif.

On Monday, the remaining round-of-128 fixtures will be completed, and European Masters champion Barry Hawkins will be in action against Elliot Slessor. The busy schedule will also feature several second-round matches.

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