Ronnie O’Sullivan was let off the hook by Mark Allen at the European Masters as he won 4-2 to reach the quarter-finals in Bucharest.
Allen might have been 3-0 up but for crucial errors in the second and third frames, and in the end the Northern Irishman paid the price as it was O’Sullivan who marched through to a meeting with Mark Davis or Liang Wenbo. Having got his season underway at last month’s Shanghai Masters, the Rocket continues to build sharpness and is now just three wins away from a 29th ranking title.
World number eight Allen started superbly with a break of 121 in the opening frame, and he looked set to go 2-0 ahead until he ran out of position on 65 in frame two. His attempted risky plant missed its target and O’Sullivan, from 61 points behind, cleared the table with 64. Frame three followed a similar pattern as Allen made 55 before missing the black off its spot, and this time a run of 60 from his opponent put him 2-1 up.
Frame four came down to a safety battle on the final brown, Allen winning it and clearing to the black to level the tie. But the Pistol scored just one point in the last two frames as O’Sullivan compiled runs of 77 and 80 to reach his first quarter-final since winning the Welsh Open in February.
“If that had been a boxing match they would have stopped it early and given Mark the result,” said O’Sullivan. “I couldn’t believe I was 2-1 up because he was the better player. I am starting to control the cue ball better although it takes time as I hardly played for four months. I am enjoying competing and looking at every match as a good practice session, win or lose. My main thought is not about winning, it’s just to play as many matches as I can.”
Asked what he would do on his day off tomorrow ahead of Friday’s quarter-finals, O’Sullivan added: “I’ll go for a run, do a bit of gym work, go to a spa for a massage, have some nice food, watch a bit of snooker and watch a few films on my ipad.”
Neil Robertson also looked close to his best as he recorded a 4-1 win over Rhys Clark.
Australia’s Robertson opened with a break of 82 then world number 79 Clark took the second frame with a run of 73 and looked set to clear up to win the third until he missed the final pink. A relieved Robertson potted it to go 2-1 ahead and that proved the turning point as the 12-time ranking event winner compiled breaks of 103 and 67 to set up a match with Anthony McGill or Scott Donaldson.
“I could have been 2-1 down then I would have been under pressure,” said Robertson. “Rhys showed a lot of promise. The tour has never been stronger – in the days of Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry there would never have been a player ranked that low playing as well as Rhys. You’ve got to play well from the first round these days. I’ve played fluently and at a nice pace in my first two matches and no one has tried to bog me down.”