Ronnie O’Sullivan eased into the second round of the BetVictor Welsh Open in Cardiff with a 4-1 win over Barry Pinches, though he turned down the chance of a 147 in the final frame.
After a slow start against world number 82 Pinches, three-time Welsh Open winner O’Sullivan gathered momentum and ended up with a comfortable victory as he set up a last 64 meeting with Tian Pengfei or Ashley Hugill.
O’Sullivan won the opening frame, then Pinches replied with a break of 70 and had chances in frame three, but couldn’t get position on the last red. He then played a weak safety, allowing O’Sullivan to pot the red and clear the table to lead 2-1. That proved the turning point as O’Sullivan made a 64 to take frame four, and finished in style with a brilliant 146 total clearance. He looked set for a maximum until he decided to take the pink from the penultimate red.
Neil Robertson made the last 147 in a ranking event, earning £44,000 at the UK Championship, which means the rolling prize for a maximum this week is £10,000.
“I like to entertain the fans, it’s like a film – you want them to come back and watch the next one,” said world number five O’Sullivan, who has already made a record 13 career maximums. “There’s no point giving them the best ending they could ever have, let’s just leave them for a better ending next time. When the prize (for a 147) gets a bit higher then I’ll go for it.
“That could have been a really long match today because Barry was taking his time between shots. With everything I’ve got on in the calendar I didn’t want to take too much out of myself by losing 4-3 in four hours. I thought if I am going to get beat, I want to get beat in an hour and a quarter or win in an hour and a quarter. So I just went for my shots and it turned out well.”
World number one Mark Selby saw off Duane Jones 4-0 with a top run of 80. “Best of seven is so cut-throat you and often throws up shocks left, right and centre,” said Selby. “I’m sure this tournament will be no different, so you need to be on your toes from the very start. I didn’t play well today but fortunately I didn’t get punished.”
Ding Junhui boosted his hopes of keeping his top 16 ranking with a 4-1 win over Steven Hallworth, highlighted by breaks of 86 and 79.
“I have done a lot of work with (coach) Terry Griffiths and he has helped me,” said China’s Ding. “We’ve been going through what to do every day in practice and I have learned a lot. My ranking is not going well so I will try to do my best to stay in the top 16.”
Stephen Maguire, meanwhile, saw his chances of getting back into the top 16 in time for the World Championship damaged as he lost 4-3 to Martin O’Donnell, whose top break was 130.
Robin Hull remained on a high after his Shoot Out triumph by beating Hossein Ayouri 4-2 with a top break of 105, while the most dramatic finish of the day saw Mike Dunn beat Chris Wakelin 4-3 on a respotted black.