Ronnie O’Sullivan produced arguably one of the greatest comebacks of his career by winning five frames on the spin to pip Andrew Higginson 5-4 in the German Masters first round.
O’Sullivan didn’t fly to Berlin last year to compete but knew that he had to make the effort this time around if has any aspirations of remaining inside the elite Top 16 in the world rankings.
The 36 year-old is currently well outside the bracket in the provisional standings and needs a strong showing both here and at the Welsh Open in a couple of weeks to avoid the abnormality of having to qualify for The Crucible at the climax of the campaign.
Things didn’t look good for ‘The Rocket’ early doors as Higginson appeared cool and composed, rattling off the first four frames in quick succession to leave his more experienced opposition stunned.
However, the roles were reversed after the mid-session interval and, after O’Sullivan got one on the board to avoid an embarrassing whitewash, he launched the incredible comeback with a majestic clearance to the black in frame six.
Higginson got in early and looked set to clinch frame and match before falling out of position with the winning pot in sight.
The former Welsh Open finalist played a loose safety and the rest, as the say, is history.
Higginson had further chances later in the match but by now the pressure had become too unbearable to manage and O’Sullivan completed the turnaround to the delight of the large Tempodrom crowd.
The result could prove to be massive in O’Sullivan’s season and who’s to argue that he won’t go on and lift the trophy now on Sunday.
The Englishman’s next opponent will be Joe Perry after he too reached the last 16 with a deciding frame finish – heaping further misery on Ali Carter in the process.
As the first round came to a conclusion, there were wins also for Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Matthew Stevens and Yu Delu – who surprised countryman Ding Junhui 5-3 – while world number one Mark Selby enjoyed a 5-0 drubbing over Liu Song with the aid of two century breaks.
In the evening session, the second round ties got under way and the biggest result was Stephen Maguire’s hammering of fellow Scot John Higgins 5-0, though there is some scope to suggest that the latter wasn’t in the right frame of mind on the anniversary of his father’s death.
Yu Delu couldn’t maintain his courageous run in the event – all the way from the first qualifying round – and fell to Lee 5-2, with similar scoreline triumphs for Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump over Ricky Walden and Mark Allen respectively.