Mark Allen is hoping his difficult season will take a turn for the better this week at the Chinese tournament he has dominated for the past two years.

The sparky Northern Irish left-hander has won back-to-back Haikou World Open titles and set off on his bid for a hat-trick with a 5-2 victory over Mike Dunn on Monday.

Allen, 28, has reached just one major quarter-final during the current campaign, when he had a strong run at the UK Championship in York, and has consequently dropped out of the world's top 10.

But at the tournament where he has landed the only major ranking titles of his career, he is looking to step up his performance.

"I've got a good record here and I want to keep it going but I need to play better," Allen said.

Former world champion Mark Williams is a likely opponent at the last-32 stage, with the Welshman looking to pick up form to earn automatic qualification for the World Championship. Williams faces Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun in his opener on Tuesday morning.

Allen said on "I might play Mark Williams next so it doesn't get any easier considering Mark's a two-time world champion and one of the greatest in the game. To play him in the last 32 is not very easy."

John Higgins and Mark Selby both came through their opening tests, beating Alex Davies and Anthony Hamilton respectively, while world number one Neil Robertson brushed aside Jamie Jones 5-1 in a win that featured the Australian's 89th century break of the season.

Last season's Crucible runner-up Barry Hawkins edged out Matt Selt 5-4 in a black-ball finish to their decider, but Scotland's world number eight Stephen Maguire was a victim of a first-round upset, losing 5-4 to Thai player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Late in the day, six-time world champion Steve Davis, battling to keep his place on tour at the age of 56, was beaten 5-3 by fellow Essex cueman Stuart Bingham who briefly threatened a 147 maximum break in the third frame of their encounter, before taking pink from the 11th red and grinding to a halt on 103.