Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated Jimmy White in a clash between two of snooker’s greats at the Coral Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
The illustrious pair hadn’t met in ranking competition since the 2010 World Open and there was a fantastic atmosphere for their much anticipated encounter. The Titanic Exhibition Centre packed to the rafters.
The ten-time ranking event winner White was a big underdog going into the match, but he took the lead after producing the better safety in a tight opener. It didn’t take long for O’Sullivan to settle into the game. He produced a magnificent clearance of 141 to level at 1-1. A fragmented third frame went the way of O’Sullivan and he then pushed on to clinch a 4-1 victory courtesy of breaks of 68 and 95.
“It was hard because I know Jimmy’s game so well and he knows mine so well. You think you know what to expect but he was playing a bit slower than he normally would tonight,” said O’Sullivan. “There were some decent spells in there and made some good breaks. 141 is great but equally winning the frame with two or three 30s is fine.”
The four-time World Champion landed perfectly on the 15th black after a sublime back double to the left middle. He went on to deposit the remaining colours and put himself in line for a potential £10,000 prize.
Mark Allen ground out a 4-2 victory against world number 106 Michael Georgiou to keep his hopes alive of lifting the Alex Higgins Trophy on home soil. Neither player produced their best, but it was Allen who managed to get over the line with a 109 break to seal the win.
Allen said: “To win in front of my home fans would mean everything. This is like a second World Championship to me,” said Allen. “This is what snooker in Northern Ireland deserves and it would be great if I could give them something to celebrate on Sunday night.”
Liang Wenbo’s hopes of claiming the £1 million bonus attached to winning all four Home Nations events were ended with a defeat to Mark King. The English Open Champion had led 2-1, but three frames in a row from King were enough to ensure he got over the line with a 4-2 victory.