SNOOKER: Perry cruising in Cardiff

Joe Perry won his first match in the Welsh Open without losing a frame.

Joe Perry won his first match in the Welsh Open without losing a frame.

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Joe Perry believes he sidestepped a potential banana skin after cruising past Tony Drago in the first round of the Welsh Open in Cardiff last night (February 1.

The Chatteris cueman failed to make a single half-century break, but still beat the Maltese veteran 4-0 at the Motorpoint Arena.

The 50-year-old Drago has been a professional since 1985 and in his heyday was renowned for his lightning speed around the table – once making a century in just three minutes and 31 seconds and winning a best-of-nine clash in just 34 minutes.

And it is that speed that has Perry relieved to come through in such a comfortable manner.

“It was a decent enough performance – no big breaks but I played a solid game and made a couple of nice clearances to win frames on the black,” said Perry.

“I was quite pleased all in all, I thought the conditions were nice so I’m looking forward to carrying on.

“I know Tony hasn’t been in the best of form in the last couple of years, but he is so talented and plays so fast that the game can get away from you very quickly.

“I was on my guard tonight and probably could have pushed the boat out a little bit to try and make some breaks but I just tried to play solid and keep him away from the table.”

The Welsh Open is being shown live on Eurosport all week and Eurosport’s expert line-up includes five-time world champion Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan, six-time World Championship finalist Jimmy “The Whirlwind” White, 1986 world champion Joe Johnson and former world No.3 Neal Foulds.

Perry’s campaign continues tonight (February 16, 7pm) against Li Hang, a man ranked 45 places below the worln number 10 from Chatteris.

And the 41-year-old believes the performances he has been producing in recent weeks point to some positive results in the near future.

“It’s hard to gauge your form these day because we’ve got so many tournaments and the standard is so high,” added Perry.

“You can get beaten in a tournament playing well and then get through a couple of games playing badly, so it really is one game at a time.

“I feel better in myself over the last couple of tournaments – I haven’t done anything much but I’ve played better and I’ve felt more comfortable with things off the table, so hopefully that bodes well for me in the future.”

Perry was pushed hard in the final two frames before booking a place in the last 64. Hang also won 4-0 against Englishman Chris Melling.

Perry, who hails from Chatteris, won by frame scores of 74-36, 71-21, 68-67 & 69-57.

Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments per season, including the World Championship, UK Championship, Welsh Open and the Masters, as well as the exclusive series ‘The Ronnie O’Sullivan Show’.