The “Rocket” is bidding for a record-extending eighth crown in the prestigious invitational.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is through to the quarter-finals of the Masters after a gripping 6-5 victory over Ding Junhui on Wednesday in Milton Keynes.
The 45 year-old fought back from behind to win the last three frames for a terrific triumph against the 2011 champion.
Ding began strongly, capitalising on a slow start from his esteemed opponent to win the first three frames on the bounce with breaks of 83, 75, and 73.
O’Sullivan stopped the rot with a contribution of 103 to finally get on the scoreboard before the mid-session interval, and the world champion reduced his arrears to one frame with an excellent run of 60 in the next.
The following three frames were of the highest quality again, with Ding’s excellent 129 and 128 tallies sandwiching O’Sullivan’s second ton.
At 5-3, Ding looked to be in control and the Chinese number one had several golden opportunities in the ninth frame – the first not to feature a significant break – to get over the winning line.
A couple of glaring misses on relatively straightforward reds allowed O’Sullivan in for a reprieve, and the latter duly forced the decider by winning the penultimate frame as well.
By now, the world number three was firmly in the ascendancy and could sense Ding’s frailty under pressure, and although he needed two bites at the cherry in the final frame, O’Sullivan managed to seal a memorable Masters victory.
Despite reaching a brace of ranking event finals, the Englishman hasn’t really performed anywhere near his best this season.
But the Masters, which O’Sullivan took the surprising decision to skip last year, is a tournament that generally provides him with a great deal of success with 13 final appearances in total since making his debut in 1994.
Later on Wednesday evening, the last first-round fixture takes place between former champions John Higgins and Mark Allen.
Live coverage is being provided by Eurosport and the BBC across Ireland and the UK, with further broadcasts also available around the world.
Click here to view the full draw (Times in CET)
Featured photo credit: WST