Ali Carter head and shoulders above the rocket
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Ali Carter Head and Shoulders Above the Rocket

Ali Carter beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in a ranking event for the first time in his career after a gripping 13-9 victory in the second round of the World Snooker Championship on Saturday.

Ali Carter head and shoulders above the rocket
Carter never looked like wilting despite a mostly partisan crowd. Photo credit: World Snooker

The “Captain”, who twice lost to O’Sullivan in finals at the Crucible in the past, resumed after Friday’s play with a 9-7 lead after mostly dominating the early exchanges of the first two sessions.

O’Sullivan won four out of the last five frames with a late rally in the second session to give himself a realistic chance of a comeback and, following a missed yellow from his opponent in the first frame of the third session, the five-time world champion pulled back to within just one.

However, that proved to be the only major unforced error from Carter as he put in a terrific display to finally get one over his fellow Englishman – on the biggest stage of them all.

Carter regained his two-frame cushion with a timely break of 63 after potting a superb red to the centre pocket with a sea of reds spread openly across the table, before an unbelievable altercation occurred between the players towards the end of the following frame.

With O’Sullivan requiring a snooker, the pair volleyed verbals at each other after what appeared to be a mini shoulder barge when they were passing each other between the table and their chairs.

Carter won the frame to move three in front but a clearly riled up O’Sullivan quickly knocked in breaks of 71 and 59 to reduce his arrears before the mid-session interval.

Then, while on a break of 54 and seemingly primed to close the gap to within one frame again, the 42 year-old inexplicably missed a simple blue off the spot and a wonderful clearance from the challenger pinched the frame on the black, taking him to within one of glory.

Carter made no mistake, never appearing like a man under pressure, and a second successive run of 51 helped him on his way to a memorable triumph.

O’Sullivan graciously offered the deserved victor his congratulations, seemingly putting an end to the animosity that was shared between the duo earlier in the contest, before Carter gave the crowd a hat-trick of emotional fist-pumps to express his elation of dispatching the favourite.

It means that the top two seeds and the winners of five out of the last six World Championships are now out of the running after world number one Mark Selby’s prior demise in the opening round.

The unexpected defeat for O’Sullivan also raises doubts again as to whether or not he’ll ever add to his tally at the Crucible, having failed when given a serious test in every edition since his last title five years ago.

For Carter, it’s a momentous victory for the 38 year-old and he’ll now surely feel like he is a serious contender to become the champion of the world for the first time in his career.

Only two former champions are remaining, with four-time champion John Higgins and twice winner Mark Williams, who could be Carter’s next match, on opposite sides of the draw.

The latter kickstarts his last 16 tie with Robert Milkins later on day eight but Higgins already has one foot in the quarter-finals after establishing an 8-0 lead over Jack Lisowski.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day Barry Hawkins held off a spirited challenge from 20 year-old Lyu Haotian to move into the quarter-finals for the sixth successive season.

Hawkins was pegged back to 10-10 after losing a dramatic 20th frame on the black when China’s Lyu required a snooker on the pink.

But the “Hawk” responded like the top eight player that he is and shifted through the gears in the last three frames to keep alive his chances of a maiden success in Sheffield.

Elsewhere, Kyren Wilson looks set to join the last eight line-up after running clear of Jamie Jones for an 11-5 advantage over the Welshman.

Live coverage continues on the BBC and Eurosport.

Click here to view the draw.

 



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World Rankings Top 16

World Rankings after the Northern Ireland Open – won by Mark Allen.

1. Judd Trump
2. Mark Selby
3. Ronnie O’Sullivan
4. Neil Robertson
5. Kyren Wilson
6. John Higgins
7. Shaun Murphy
8. Stephen Maguire
9. Mark Allen
10. Ding Junhui
11. Mark Williams
12. Stuart Bingham
13. Yan Bingtao
14. Barry Hawkins
15. Jack Lisowski
16. Anthony McGill

Fin Ruane Snooker Academy