WPBSA Player Support Programme 2023 | Lilleshall National Sports Centre

Alexander The Great Slays Ronnie

Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher scored the best win of his career so far as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-2 in the third round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.

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So far this season, world number 71 Ursenbacher had not been beyond the last 64 of a ranking event, until this week as he is now into the last 16 in Cardiff to face China’s Zhao Xintong on Thursday evening.

Ursenbacher got to the semi-finals of the English Open last season but the 22-year-old subsequently struggled to replicate the same form – until today when he outplayed four-time Welsh Open champion O’Sullivan.

World number three O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 118, his 994th career century, but he lost three of the next four frames as his Swiss opponent got on a roll with runs of 70, 52 and 57. In frame six, O’Sullivan had a chance to clear from 42-0 down to make it 3-3, but he missed the yellow off the last red on 35.

Ursenbacher was left with a tricky thin cut on the yellow to a baulk corner, playing the the rest, but executed it perfectly and cleared to the pink for victory.

“I didn’t expect to beat him, though I knew it was possible if I took my chances. I’m feeling good!” said Ursenbacher. “It’s my biggest win. If you play well then the wins come automatically. I’m full of confidence now but I won’t go any further if I don’t concentrate on each ball.”

Asked about the crucial pot on the yellow in the last frame, he added: “I wasn’t even sure if it went. I just knew if I hit it really thin with loads of side and didn’t hit the brown, it might go in. And I knew if I potted it I would win the match. Ronnie asked me at the end if the yellow went because he didn’t think it did, and I said ‘I don’t know!’ I just went for it.”

O’Sullivan said: “The better man won on the day. He potted some great balls and played with freedom and abandonment which is a fantastic way to approach any game. I’ve got nothing but praise for him, he’s great to watch. I had fun out there and gave it my best shot.”

Following the exits of Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Kyren Wilson and now O’Sullivan, there were further surprise results as Shoot Out champion Michael Georgiou scored a 4-2 win over Barry Hawkins while Ian Burns top scored with 103 in a 4-2 win over Mark Allen.

Burns said: “Mark is one of the best players in the world and his form has been unbelievable. He wasn’t at his best today but I played some good stuff myself.”

World number one Mark Selby beat Noppon Saengkham 4-1 in a high quality match. Selby compiled breaks of 107 and 115 while Thailand’s Saengkham made his first 147 in the second frame.

Jack Lisowski knocked in breaks of 127, 101, 82, 63 and 54 as he edged out Sam Craigie 4-3. Ding Junhui came from 2-0 down to beat Joe Perry 4-2 with a top break of 98. Neil Robertson recovered a 3-1 deficit to beat Paul Davison 4-3.