Maguire Denies Morris; O’Sullivan Record on Hold

David Morris came close to what would have been another big victory over a top 16 player before just falling short in a 5-4 defeat to Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in the German Masters qualifying.

Photo courtesy of Monique Limbos
Stephen Maguire was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2012 German Masters – Photo courtesy of Monique Limbos.

Last week’s Lisbon Open champion appeared to be in relative control when breaks of 65 and 80 helped him to a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval.

However, Morris, who reached the last 16 of the UK Championship for a second successive season this month, responded with runs of 48, 73 and 51 to leap 4-3 ahead.

The Kilkenny cueist then knocked in a break of 55 in the penultimate frame to go within a few balls of an upset but Maguire fought bravely to eek out the frame on the colours, before winning the decider to advance to Berlin in February.

While it will probably feel like a failure to Morris right now, especially given the fact it means he ends 2014 with a defeat, on reflection it should provide him with further proof that he is more than capable of consistently mixing it with the elite.

Meanwhile, on a very busy day of action in Wigan that saw 64 players whittled down to 32, Ronnie O’Sullivan safely negotiation the challenge of Aditya Mehta to book his spot at the Tempodrom.

The 39 year-old had compiled three centuries in his first round encounter to get to within two of Stephen Hendry’s all-time record of 775 and instill some fervor that the record would be broken at Robin Park.

However, despite what transpired to be a comfortable enough 5-2 victory following a shaky start, O’Sullivan tallied zero¬†tons which ensures that the possibility of a media-frenzied milestone moment at the Masters next months remains large.

The majority of the other top seeds who were still in the tournament all advanced as well, with the exception of Hong Kong’s Marco Fu who crashed 5-2 to Liam Highfield.

After a distinctly disappointing couple of years on the circuit, Highfield has shown a little more promise so far this season which could suggest that, at 24, he is still just about among that young band of about a dozen or so players who could be labeled as snooker’s future.

Some of the other stars had an easier time of it than others.

Defending champion Ding Junhui, world champion Mark Selby and world no.1 Neil Robertson all registered safe successes over Craig Steadman, Jamie Jones and Oliver Lines respectively.

UK runner-up Judd Trump had a much harder time of it, though, needing to fight back from 3-0 down to pip fellow Englishman Mark Joyce in a decider 5-4.

World no.5 Barry Hawkins too required all nine frames to see off the challenge of Barry Pinches, who at one point boasted a 4-2 advantage.

Elsewhere, it was a mixed pair of results for Dublin duo Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien.

In a repeat of the 1998 World Championship final almost 17 years ago, John Higgins again prevailed over old foe Doherty but O’Brien registered a similar 5-2 scoreline defeat over Tian Pengfei.

In-form men this season Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Stuart Bingham and Mark Williams will all be flying to continental Europe in the new year, which guarantees that the German public, arguably the best fans in snooker, will be treated to another high-quality tournament.

The full draw can be viewed by clicking here. 

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