Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a sublime display to dispatch Mark Davis 4-1 and reach the last 32 of the Dafabet English Open in Barnsley.
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The Rocket has been struggling with an ankle injury picked up whilst running in the build up to the event. He was given an exemption to the dress code, allowing him to use footwear which helps manage the effects of the problem. O’Sullivan had psychiatrist and mentor Steve Peters in the crowd supporting him this evening.
Last time the pair met at this year’s Welsh Open it was two-time Six Red World Champion Davis who came out on top. He battled from 3-0 down to overturn the Rocket 4-3. There was to be no comeback on this occasion.
Davis took the opener, before O’Sullivan claimed the lead at 2-1. From there the five-time World Champion stormed to the line with a vintage display of break building. He fired in consecutive runs of 136 and 134 to wrap up the 4-1 win in style.
O’Sullivan said: “I know I will have to play two matches tomorrow if I win the first one, and the foot should now be up to that. I honestly didn’t think on Tuesday I was going to be able to play.
“It is better than the other day, and I am walking half-decent again. I like to walk at a decent pace out at the table, or I have no rhythm.”
Defending Champion Liang Wenbo wowed the Barnsley crowd with a spectacular 147, the second of his career.
The magic break puts him in line to win the £40,000 prize on offer for a 147 this week. It was part of a comeback from 3-1 down to beat Tom Ford 4-3. The Chinese ace faces an intriguing clash with compatriot Yan Bingtao tomorrow.
World Champion Mark Selby booked his spot in the last 32 with a 4-1 defeat of Scotland’s Ross Muir.
The 12-time ranking event winner wasn’t at his fluent best today, but still showed enough to get himself over the line. He compiled runs of 68, 70 and 52 on his way to the victory.
“The scoreline makes it look a bit straightforward but it wasn’t a great game,” said Selby. “You don’t want to peak too soon. I need to perform better if I want to go further in the tournament, but I am still in it so I can only improve.”
Shaun Murphy produced an electric performance to beat Daniel Wells 4-2, notching up 439 unanswered points in the last four frames.
The match got off to a scrappy start, with Wells edging to a 2-0 lead. However Murphy then took the game by the scruff of the neck and blitzed to the line with breaks of 135, 134, 87 and 83.
Neil Robertson won a tremendous encounter with China’s Li Hang 4-3. Li emerged victorious in the most recent clash between the two at the China Championship. Today’s meeting saw a break over 50 in every frame and it was the Australian who prevailed.
Mark Williams continued his impressive form to defeat China Champion Luca Brecel 4-1, while 29-time ranking event winner John Higgins beat Matthew Selt 4-1.
Thai legend James Wattana rolled back the years to defeat world number 13 Ali Carter 4-3. The three-time ranking event winner top scored with 108. He clinched victory in a marathon final frame, which lasted over an hour.