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Warrior Halts the Rocket
A sublime display from Kyren Wilson saw him defeat tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan in the match of the tournament so far at the Coral Northern Ireland Open.
It was their first meeting in professional competition and they produced a fantastic spectacle in front of an enthralled Titanic Exhibition Centre crowd in Belfast.
It was apparent from the off that the 2015 Shanghai Masters Champion Wilson was going to go for his shots. Despite not making any contributions over 40 in the opening frames, the Warrior sunk several fearless long reds to go 2-0 in front. A run of 63 in the third saw him speed into a surprise 3-0 lead and it looked like it was going to be a quick evening’s work before the Rocket hit back.
The five-time World Champion deposited a sublime long red with the white close to the top cushion in the fourth frame. That was the catalyst for a thunderous comeback. O’Sullivan went on to compile a run of 107 from it in just over six minutes. The Rocket wasted little time in restoring parity at 3-3 thanks to two further centuries, 108 and 117.
It looked as if the momentum lay with O’Sullivan, however it was Wilson who managed to hold himself together in the final frame. A steely break of 70 secured a 4-3 win and a quarter-final clash with Mark Williams.
“I’ve felt good all week really,” said Wilson. “I just thought that we brought out the best in each other there. I was pleased to come out the winner, even if he did make three centuries.”
Mark Williams earned his quarter-final spot by ending the 11 match winning streak of John Higgins. The two-time World Champion closed out the game from 2-1 in front courtesy of consecutive breaks of 67.
Williams said: “A couple of those matches in his 11 wins in a row were against me. I said before the game I was very unlucky not to win one of them if not both of them. I was pleased to get one back on him today.”
Mark Allen came through a tense late night battle with Gary Wilson. The home favourite came from 2-0 down to secure his place in the last eight with a narrow 4-3 victory.
His opponent in the last eight will be Anthony Hamilton who edged out Chinese 16-year-old Yan Bingtao 4-3
Hossein Vafaei Ayouri reached his first ever ranking event quarter-final with a 4-2 defeat of Scott Donaldson. Ayouri, a former World Under-21 Champion, is the first ever professional player from Iran and he sealed the biggest win of his career this evening in Belfast. He opened up a 2-0 lead thanks to contributions of 53 and 75. It was a lead which he wouldn’t relinquish, running out a 4-2 winner. He faces Mark King next who booked his first quarter-final appearance of the season courtesy of a 4-2 win over Norway’s Kurt Maflin.
Barry Hawkins progressed to the quarter-final stage thanks to a 4-0 whitewash of Jack Lisowski. From 2-0 up the Hawk ruthlessly dismissed his opponent thanks to runs of 79 and 117. He faces Michael White tomorrow who saw off fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 4-2.