Ronnie O’Sullivan survived a scare in the second round of the English Open as he came from behind to beat young star Zhao Xintong in a decider.
The 19 year-old from China, a twice world amateur runner-up, was in scintillating form as he compiled a brace of tons along with an 80 to lead the ‘Rocket’ 3-2.
Zhao had chances to kill off the match but O’Sullivan steeled himself to deny the teenager what would have obviously been the result of his career so far.
O’Sullivan, finalist in the European Masters last week, moves into the last 32 and continues his attempt to win the 28 matches in a row necessary to capture the unlikely Home Nations million pound bonus.
For Zhao, he ultimately came up short on this occasion but one feels it’s only a matter of time before he, and this new wave of emerging Chinese talent, break through into the higher echelons.
In a day of high drama with plenty of the marquee games going all the way to the final frame, European Masters champion Judd Trump too avoided an upset as he also fought back from 3-2 down to deny Jamie Bodle.
The 27 year-old had trailed the English amateur champion 2-0 and 3-2 but eclipsed his countryman with the aid of runs of 134, 93 and 64.
It wasn’t to be a happy ending for all of the main attractions, though, as world no.1 Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy both bowed out in Manchester on Wednesday.
World champion Selby exited at the hands of Liam Highfield 4-3 while Murphy was defeated by Liang Wenbo, who fired in a 136 before stealing the decider on the colours.
One of the big problems of this format unfortunately materialised as a result of all the seven frame thrillers on the third day at Event City.
With three matches scheduled on the TV table between 1pm and 7pm, it was also going to a possibility that time would become a factor when one or more of the matches became lengthy affairs.
And so when Highfield and Liang’s elongated triumphs resulted in Ronnie O’Sullivan’s encounter, which was supposed to start at 7pm, beginning an incredible two hours and 45 minutes later than planned, it meant the Trump’s clash was duly shuffled across to another table.
This may be acceptable to hardcore fans who don’t care which match they get to see, on whatever table.
Yet, for spectators hoping to watch their favourite player at a particular time, it’s a comprehensive failure of the event’s structure, planning and organisation.
Meanwhile, there were victories for several of the other higher seeds as Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham all booked their places in round three.
Multiple Crucible champions John Higgins and Mark Williams also advanced with respective 4-1 defeats of Mark King and Ian Burns while Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen earned a similar scoreline success against Scott Donaldson.
Ireland’s Fergal O’Brien knocked in a 91 en route to a 4-2 victory over Ross Muir to join, among others, Ricky Walden, Ali Carter, Kyren Wilson and Martin Gould in Thursday’s last 32.
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