Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher sprung a shock to reach the quarter-finals of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open, beating home favourite Mark Allen 4-3 in Belfast.
World number 102 Ursenbacher dropped off the tour at the end of last season. However, the former English Open semi-finalist narrowly regained his place on the circuit through Q School, by earning a victory over Peter Lines in the final round of event three.
Northern Irish number one Allen will have to wait another year for his maiden Belfast title. The five-time ranking event winner will now turn his attentions to the upcoming UK Championship in York, where he was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan last year.
This evening, breaks of 62 and 64 saw Ursenbacher move 2-0 up and silence a passionate home crowd in the early stages.
However, 2018 Masters champion Allen got himself off the mark with a century run of 101. He then clinched a tense fourth frame to restore parity at 2-2 and delight his fans at the Waterfront Hall.
A steely contribution of 72 allowed Ursenbacher to move one from victory at 3-2, before Allen forced a decider with a stunning run of 103.
It was Ursenbacher who took his chance, making 68 to book a quarter-final meeting with Joe Perry, who beat Robbie Williams 4-1 to secure his last eight spot.
“It was amazing, I knew the crowd was going to be on his side. If I got involved with the emotions it would have been tough. I just tried to stay focused,” said Ursenbacher. “I know what I have done wrong in the past. So it wasn’t really surprising to me that I dropped off the tour. That is what you deserve if you don’t put the hard work in. I don’t want to play Q School again and I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”
Defending and World Champion Judd Trump booked his quarter-final place with a 4-0 defeat of former Northern Ireland Open finalist Yan Bingtao.
World number one Trump looks to be in ominous form, having also whitewashed Si Jiahui 4-0 in his last 32 match earlier today.
The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 62, 56 and 70 on his way to this evening’s victory. He’ll face Anthony Hamilton in the last eight after the Sheriff of Pottingham came through a hard fought battle with Kyren Wilson 4-3.
Trump said: “This is the bit where you get excited. This is like a proper tournament. Looking back at the atmosphere last year it was amazing. It’s down to one table and there are a lot of good players still in. The Home Nations doesn’t always bring that. Sometimes a lot of big players go out early. This is a tournament which brings the best out of people with it being the Alex Higgins Trophy, I think everyone wants to win it.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the quarter-finals with a 4-1 win over China’s Yuan Sijun.
The Rocket fired in breaks of 127, 78 and 57 on his way to victory and will now face a mouth watering last eight clash with Shaun Murphy tomorrow. The Magician booked his passage with a 4-2 defeat of world number 11 Barry Hawkins.
Afterwards O’Sullivan said that he plans to continue to play with an aggressive mindset over the weekend.
O’Sullivan said: “I enjoy it. I wish I’d have done this 20 years ago and I’d probably have enjoyed it more. Just go for your shots and if they go in, they go in. When they stop, it is time to turn it in. I was watching Selby on the other table. I love Mark and he is a great player. But I have been watching his games. They are hard games and scrappy. I couldn’t play like that.”
Selby overcame Ken Doherty 4-1 to set up a quarter-final meeting with John Higgins, who defeated fellow Glaswegian Stephen Maguire 4-3.