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Joyce Shocks Rocket In Beijing

Mark Joyce scored one of the best wins of his career as he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 in the last 32 of the Bank of Beijing China Open.

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World number 51 Joyce held his nerve in an exciting finish to knock five-time World Champion O’Sullivan out of the last tournament before he heads to the Crucible. O’Sullivan has not won a ranking title in 13 months, though he did lift the Masters trophy in January.

In the last 16 on Thursday, Walsall’s 33-year-old Joyce will face home favourite Ding Junhui, who thumped Zhou Yuelong 5-0.

Joyce had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, and 4-3 and each time O’Sullivan fought back to level. It was a high quality contest with Joyce compiling breaks of 79, 66 and 137 while world number 13 O’Sullivan made 106, 132 and 63. The deciding frame was a nervy one as both players missed chances. Joyce failed on a red to a top corner when he trailed 26-29, but O’Sullivan then missed a tough red to the same pocket. A further 31 from Joyce proved enough for victory.

“It’s right up there with my best wins,” said Joyce after reaching the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time this season. “I beat Judd Trump at the UK Championship when he was world number one a few years ago, so this is probably second to that one. I have beaten a few of the top players on TV, it’s on the back tables that I need to start winning and translating these kind of victories into long runs in tournaments.

“I had a good chance to win in the eighth frame tonight and messed it up. The crowd was tough because they wanted Ronnie to win. In the blink of an eye it was 4-4 and that unsettled me. Luckily for me Ronnie missed a red in the last frame and I managed to hold myself together to make a good break. Again tomorrow I’ll be second favourite but I enjoy that underdog tag. If you are at the table and scoring it doesn’t matter who you play. Every round from now on I’ll be playing a top player.”

Ding made a sensational start against fellow Chinese cueman Zhou, scoring 384 points without reply. Breaks of 109, 127 and 82 put him 3-0 ahead. Zhou managed 27 points in frame four but there was to be no fightback as Ding recovered to win  that frame and sealed the result in the next with a 54.

“I turned pro when I was 16 and I’ve played a lot of matches over the years,” said Ding, winner of 12 ranking events. “It’s tough for the young players from China to win matches, I know that because I lived through that. I will do my best to help them with their career.”

World number one Mark Selby beat Martin O’Donnell 5-1 with a top break of 101 and now faces Andrew Higginson.

Ricky Walden’s hopes of regaining a top 16 spot ahead of the Betfred World Championship seeding cut off ended as he lost 5-4 to Higginson. Walden led 4-1 but Higginson hit back with a top break of 105 and eventually won the decider on the final black.

Stephen Maguire kept his top 16 hopes alive – though he needs to win the tournament to secure an automatic Crucible berth. He beat Li Hang 5-3 with runs of 114, 87, 80, 71 and 100. For the latest on the race to the Crucible CLICK HERE

Daniel Wells continued his fine run with a 5-2 win over Matthew Stevens while world number three Stuart Bingham saw off Noppon Saengkham 5-2. Kyren Wilson beat Sanderson Lam by the same scoreline.