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Rocket Flies Into Round Three

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hot streak continued as he thrashed Graeme Dott 4-0 to reach the last 32 of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.

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O’Sullivan’s World Grand Prix triumph last Sunday was his fourth ranking title of the season, and one more would match the record of five held by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby.

Today’s match – a repeat of the 2004 World Championship final – could have had a different outcome as Dott had chances in every frame, but the Scot failed to capitalise and O’Sullivan ran out an easy winner with top breaks of 106 (his 60th century of the season) and 69. He now meets David Grace.

O’Sullivan emphasised that an improved diet this season is one of the key reasons behind his recent success. He said: “I have always been into my health, fitness and running. Because of injuries I started to put a bit of weight on so I decided to work with a nutritionist. The benefit of that was feeling good in myself and having more energy. I take my diet more seriously now than I have ever done. I have massively changed my diet, learned about it and educated myself.”

Home favourite Mark Williams kept up his hopes of winning a third ranking title of the season as he beat India’s Aditya Mehta 4-3. Williams led 2-0 with breaks of 79 and 106 before losing a marathon 76-minute third frame. The black became trapped behind a cluster of reds over one corner pocket and a long safety tussle ensued, finally resolved when Williams accidentally knocked the black in. Mehta then took a 3-2 lead before Williams won the last two frames with 89 and 75.

“I should have given up the third frame a lot earlier and just carried on with the next one,” said Cwm cueman Williams. “I don’t want to be in a frame like that again, ever. There was nothing we could do, we could have been there all night. I played well at the start of the match and in the last two frames. I have had such a good season that the pressure is off me.”

The only other Welshman in the third round is Matthew Stevens, who beat Scott Donaldson 4-2. Williams added: “We haven’t had much to cheer about at this event for a long time now. Hopefully Matthew can have a good run as well, but it seems to be only me trying to get to the later stages. I don’t know why that is, but I can’t fly the flag forever.”

Neil Robertson joined Judd Trump and Ding Junhui as the big-name casualties on day three, despite making three centuries. After five frames Robertson led 3-2 and had a 100% pot success rate having fired runs of 100, 100 and 130. But world number 100 Burns, who earlier had breaks of 85 and 106, took the last two frames with 75 and 47.

Preston’s Burns said: “It’s very pleasing to beat one of the best players in the world and play that well. I don’t play on the TV tables too often so it’s nice to get out there and perform well.”

World number one Mark Selby was also knocked out, losing 4-3 to Liang Wenbo in a match which finished at 1.10am.

Defending champion Stuart Bingham ended the hopes of Welsh 16-year-old Jackson Page, winning 4-2 with top breaks of 77, 92 and 65.

Kyren Wilson showed his break building skills in a 4-0 win over Rory McLeod, rattling in 100, 85 and 136, while John Higgins also top scored with 136 as he won a tartan tussle against Stephen Maguire 4-1.

Masters champion Mark Allen made a 116 in a 4-1 win over Soheil Vahedi  while Ben Woollaston edged out Anthony McGill 4-3 despite being hauled back from 3-0 to 3-3.

The last 32 and last 16 will be played on Thursday, click here for the match schedule.