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Defending champion Ebdon, Higgins ousted from snooker China Open

Beijing: Defending champion Peter Ebdon and World No.5 John Higgins both suffered first-round exits at the World Snooker China Open on Tuesday.

Ebdon came from behind three times for 3-all before losing the last two frames to Marcus Campbell while Higgins squandered a 3-1 lead, losing to Robert Milkins 4-5. Ebdon blamed his loss to the change of the ball.

"It`s really disappointing to lose the match. The ball is so light that the shot usually goes wide. The World Snooker changed the ball recently which I cannot get used to," complained Ebdon.

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, refused to take Ebdon`s doubt.

"We never change the ball and we are strict on the quality of the ball throughout the season. Beijing`s climate is dry so the ball can be a little bit lighter."

Ebdon kept his slow pace and tied for 3-all after the first six scrappy frames. After safety exchanges, Campbell took the seventh frame and finally sealed the victory.

Higgins continued his lacklustre performance in recent months. In the match against Milkins, he went 3-1 up and regained a 4-3 lead with a superb 116 after 3-all, but he missed the chance for victory in the next after Milkins missed the final yellow, running out of position on the brown while Campbell clearing to the pink to force the decider.

Milkins built a 47-4 lead in the last frame and when Higgins missed a long red by several inches the Englishman added 21 to secure the result.

The World Snooker China Open, the season`s penultimate world ranking event, runs from March 25 to 31 with the participation of all the top 16.