Dominic Dale recorded a shock 5-3 defeat of 36-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan on day one of the Zhiyuan World Open in Yushan.
It was a momentous victory for Welshman Dale, who had lost all of his eight career meetings with the Rocket coming into this afternoon’s clash. The world number 94 also narrowly avoided relegation from the circuit last season. Despite finishing the campaign outside of the world’s top 64, he retained his tour card thanks to his position in the one-year earnings list.
O’Sullivan claimed victory at the invitational Shanghai Masters earlier in the season, winning the event for the third year in a row. However, having only entered two ranking events, the world number two currently sits 72nd in the one-year ranking list and has work to do to secure his position in the Coral Series later in the season.
The Spaceman secured an early advantage over the Rocket this afternoon, taking the opening two frames to lead 2-0. However, O’Sullivan bounced back to claim two on the bounce and level at 2-2.
Dale edged back in front courtesy of a 76 break, but was again pinned back by O’Sullivan who levelled at 3-3.
From there two-time ranking event winner Dale surged to the line. He made breaks of 51 and 72 to come through a surprise 5-3 victor.
“It’s taken 27 years to beat Ronnie, that might be the beginning of my career now,” said Dale. “It is always an honour to play the greatest player in the game. In some respects when you play Ronnie, focus and application is guaranteed. If it isn’t then something is wrong. I didn’t expect to beat him, but I have a lot of experience and I was just there to perform.
“Ronnie looked like he was taking the match very seriously. There have been times in his career we know that hasn’t been the case, but it was today. He seemed very focussed and put in a good effort there.”
Recent English Open champion Mark Selby came through a hard fought battle with former German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton, emerging a 5-3 victor.
The Jester from Leicester produced one of the circuits most impressive performances in recent years to win the English Open. He missed just seven balls in a 9-1 defeat of David Gilbert in the final in Crawley.
Three-time World Champion Selby top scored in today’s defeat of Hamilton with a run of 111 in the opening frame. Next up he will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham.
World Champion Judd Trump put on a fine display to brush aside Zhang Jiankang 5-0. The Ace in the pack composed breaks of 80, 104, 63, 70 and 69 on his way to victory.
2019 China Champion Shaun Murphy continued his red hot spell of form by booking a place in the second round thanks to a 5-2 defeat of Alan McManus. While China’s 13-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui saw off Billy Castle 5-2.