DEFENDING champion Antrim’s Jordan Brown has lost 4-3 to world number 89 Mitchell Mann in the first round of the Welsh Open at Celtic Manor.
Birmingham native Mann took the first frame, but Brown moved 2-1 ahead with the aid of an fabulous 124 break in frame three.
A run of 62 drew Mann level but Brown constructed a useful 50 break to ease ahead again 3-2.
The Englishman replied with a 50 break of his own, however, to restore parity once again and took the final frame to book a second-round meeting with Ben Hancorn.
Brown won the tournament last year as a 750-1 outsider, defeating Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-8 in a thrilling final.
The 34-year-old's passage to the decider included winning four final-frame deciders - a remarkable display of nerve for a player few fancied to take the title.
The victory saw Brown become only the fourth Northern Irishman to collect a tour title - with Antrm stablemate Mark Allen one of the others.
He may have struggled to recapture that form however, with a fourth-round appearance at the UK Championship his best performance of 2021-22 - but he has proven that he has the skills to bother the big boys.
Just last week he inflicted a surprise loss on Mark Selby at the European Masters.
The World number one Mark Selby lost in a huge upset 5-3 to Jordan.
The Antrim man hit the ground running with a break of 118 in the first frame, but Selby held on to keep tin touch to 2-2, before a half century again put Brown ahead.
Selby looked to have found his form when he put way a 128 break to level at 3-3, but two relatively scrappy frames for Brown, the last won 55-68 as Selby could not build on a 54 break, sealed a memorable victory.
Unfortunately it was not to be with Brown knocked out 2-5 by Graeme Dott.
Still an impressive enough run, ad he puts it down to working with ‘mind coach’ AP O’Neill since November.
“Snooker's such a mental game. In my opinion, it's about 90 per cent mental (ability) and so it's very important to get that right,” he told Betfair this week.
“I was a bit all over the place - just with the expectation and putting pressure on myself because I really wanted to push on after my win.
“I was thinking all the wrong things out there so I'm putting that right now - thankfully - and it seems to be working.
“I feel like my game is definitely in good shape, and I know I’m not too far away from another big performance again.”
The local man admits that the Welsh Open 2021 - and the £70,000 prize money - had changed everything.
“It was massively overwhelming - it’s something that I wouldn’t say never expected to happen, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon. It just all hit me like a tonne of bricks.
“I didn’t quite know how to deal with it and I think that showed in some of my performances.
“I had so many interviews and calls. People from TV and radio, they were all after me and I think if I could have done things differently, maybe I would have.
“Maybe I would have concentrated more on preparing for the season ahead, but hindsight's a wonderful thing.”