Ronnie O’Sullivan said “all-out attack is sometimes the best form of defence” after a 4-2 win over Sanderson Lam in the first round of the ManBetX Welsh Open.
O’Sullivan delighted the Cardiff crowd with flashes of his brilliant best as he set up an intriguing last-64 clash with Chinese prodigy Yuan Sijun on Wednesday afternoon.
World number 105 Lam, ranked 102 places lower than his illustrious opponent, threatened an upset when he led 2-1, only for O’Sullivan to reel off three frames in a row with top breaks of 95 and 116. The second of those was his 992nd career century, and in fact the first would have given him one more ton had he given referee Brendan Moore time to replace the pink before potting the last red. The break would have moved to 101 but for the foul.
“I enjoyed it, it was a nice game to play in,” said O’Sullivan, who has lifted the Welsh Open trophy four times, most recently in 2016. “He’ll be disappointed because he had chances. Attacking is my style of play and it has got me this far over many years. You have to stick to what you know best. It might look reckless but I still fancy getting most of those shots.
“I’m certainly not looking any further than the next round. My next match is tough, against a young Chinese player who has been beating everyone, so it will be a good result if I can win that one.”
World number one Mark Selby was in superb form in a 4-2 win over Anthony McGill, knocking in breaks of 139, 75, 61 and 80.
“Overall I played well and won frames in one visit,” said Selby, who won this title back in 2008. “I played Anthony in the Championship League a few weeks ago. He said he had been struggling and he was changing his technique and lacking a bit of confidence. I said to him just to try to enjoy it and to go back his old ways because he’s a great player. Today he looked dangerous again. He’s a good lad and hopefully he kicks on.
“It is one of my goals to hold on to my world number one spot. Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are getting close so it’s up to me to try to perform better and get to the later stages of more tournaments. I’m playing really well in patches then putting in the odd poor performance and I can’t put my finger on why that is.”
Welshman Duane Jones, who got to his first ranking semi-final at the German Masters earlier this month, edged out Xiao Guodong 4-3 to set up a match with Judd Trump.
“This one means a lot because it’s the first time I’ve had all the family with me, and guys from the club I practise at came down,” said Jones. “That’s the most nervous I have ever felt playing a snooker match. When I play Judd I’m going to relax a little bit more and embrace it.”
Ding Junhui, who has to win the tournament to qualify for next month’s Players Championship (read more on that race here), started well with a 4-0 defeat of Chris Totten.
German Masters champion Kyren Wilson conceded just 36 points as he beat Andy Lee 4-0 with runs of 63, 88, 67 and 60.
“It’s a nice start to the week, if you can save energy hopefully it will put you in good stead for later on,” said Wilson, who has won three titles this season.
“When you’re playing well and you’re enjoying everything, it’s like a drug – that’s the best way to explain it. Snooker is an addictive game and you just want to keep on playing.”
Veteran Jimmy White, the oldest player in the field at 56, came from 2-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-2. Stuart Bingham top scored with 90 in a 4-0 defeat of World Grand Prix finalist Ali Carter.
China’s Zhao Xintong top scored with 106 in a 4-1 win over Jackson Page, though promising Welsh amateur Page did make a 104 in the opening frame. Barry Hawkins beat Sunny Akani 4-0 with a top run of 91.