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Fearless Fergal Stuns Brecel

Fergal O’Brien made an incredible comeback from 4-0 down to beat Luca Brecel 5-4 and reach the last 16 of the Hong Rui Ma Yushan World Open in China.

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Tour stalwart O’Brien has been a pro for 27 years but only once before had he come from 4-0 down to win a best-of-nine encounter, and that was back in 1993 against Cliff Thorburn at the International Open.

World number 15 Brecel looked to be cruising as he fired breaks of 84, 54, 73 and 53 to take the first four frames. But the interval changed the momentum as Dublin’s O’Brien won four in a row with top breaks of 121 and 96. Belgium’s Brecel led 28-1 in the decider when he missed the blue to a centre pocket, and his opponent made 41 before getting the better of a safety exchange on the last red and clearing for victory. O’Brien, age 46, goes through to face Gary Wilson or Judd Trump on Thursday.

“I’m just delighted, it hasn’t really sunk in,” said world number 51 O’Brien. “At 4-0 Luca was playing exceptionally well. I was just hoping to get a chance to get back into it. I got into a groove from 4-2. In the last frame he was unlucky because the blue he went for hit the back of the pocket and jumped out.

“This summer is the most I have practised for a long time. Last season wasn’t good for me so I wanted to start well this time. I’m still battling away. The motivation is just to keep playing, especially with more tournaments and more money to play for. It’s great for young players but great for us older guys as well. In every tournament I always hope to go deep.”

It was a similar story for David Gilbert as he recovered a 3-0 deficit to beat Ali Carter 5-3. Carter, who won this title two years ago, knocked in breaks of 65, 70 and 53 to win the first three frames, but Gilbert stormed back with 63 and 78 for 3-2, then won two tight frames before sealing the result with a marvellous 140 total clearance.

Tour rookie Harvey Chandler enjoyed impressive wins over Michael White and Kurt Maflin to get this far and he threatened to take a bigger scalp when he led Kyren Wilson 3-2, but world number nine Wilson hit back to win 5-3 with a top break of 107.

“I played ok apart from missing the odd silly ball,” said Wilson, who won his only ranking title at the 2015 Shanghai Masters. “It’s Harvey’s first time in China and he played well, it was a good match. I was pleased to be able to turn it around from 3-2 down.

“I’m very positive about this season. I had too long a break in May and June, I had a couple of holidays and didn’t pick my cue up for seven weeks. So I felt a bit ropey in the qualifiers last month but I am starting to find my groove now. It was nice to have a good break but I didn’t work hard enough and that won’t be happening next year.”

Jones was no match for Selby

World Champion Mark Williams enjoyed a comfortable 5-2 win over Ben Woollaston and now meets Joe Perry or Stephen Maguire. Runs of 73, 60, 62 and 52 helped Williams into round four. World number one Mark Selby also enjoyed a 5-2 success, beating Jamie Jones with a top break of 75.

China’s Xiao Guodong showed his break-building class as he beat Jak Jones 5-0 with runs of 97, 50, 88, 77 and 57, while Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham scored a 5-2 win over Ryan Day.