Former world champion Stuart Bingham questioned the sanitised balls after struggling to victory over qualifier Ashley Carty at the World Snooker Championhips on Saturday.
Bingham held a narrow overnight lead of 5-4 over Carty and went on to win 10-7 to become the first player to wrap up a victory since fans were belatedly banned from the event.
According to the World Snooker Tour, no extra protocols have been introduced regarding the cleaning of the balls however Bingham believed it to be a possible reason for some of his struggles in the game.
“I felt lost with the table and the balls. I don’t know whether they had been sanitised,” he said.
“I played a red near the green pocket, and screwed back past the blue pocket – I’ve never done that in my life. But it is what it is, and if it’s sanitised, you’ve just got to get on with it.”
Bingham had extended his lead to 9-4 at one stage of the game however Carty managed to cut the deficit to 9-7 as he looked to cause an opening-round upset.
In last year’s opener, Bingham defeated Graeme Dott, however, he let an 8-1 lead slip to eventually limp over the line to claim the victory and the 2015 world champion admitted that it played on his mind against Carty.
“It was all I was thinking about from the moment he started coming back, and I was very grateful to get over the line in the end.
“It made it a little bit harder knowing what can happen, that it can so easily slip away from you frame by frame. With the memories, I was getting a little bit anxious, so I was happy that I made a good break in the end.”
Bingham eventually wrapped up victory with an impressive break of 82 and he clinched his place in the next round at the Crucible.