Players' Championship: Ding Junhui beaten by Ben Woollaston

Ding Junhui

Defending champion Ding Junhui suffered an opening-day defeat in the Players' Championship Grand Final in Preston.

Chinese world number three Ding, 26, went down 4-3 to Ben Woollaston despite taking the opening three frames.

"It's a big win but will only be good if I go further now," Woollaston, also 26, told World Snooker's website.external-link

Australia's world number one Neil Robertson also suffered an early exit, losing 4-2 to former world champion Shaun Murphy.

The Englishman, who won the Haikou World Open in China earlier this month, made breaks of 70 and 64 in his victory.

Last year, Woollaston reached the quarter-finals of the Players' Championship Grand Final, which is the culmination of a number of qualifying events throughout the season.

He will now face four-time world champion John Higgins for a place in the last eight after the Scot beat England's Jimmy Robertson 4-2.

A total of 32 players are playing in the tournament with £100,000 going to the man who wins Saturday's final.

In other matches on day one, two-time world champion Mark Williams beat China's Lyu Haotian 4-1 and Anthony Hamilton defeated Sam Baird 4-3. Marco Fu,Gerard Greene and Judd Trump were also winners, beating Gary Wilson,Ricky Walden and Ju Reti respectively.