In the best match of the tournament so far, Ronnie trailed Ding Junhui by 3-0, but fought back really well to prevail in a deciding frame.
Here are the final scores, and the stats ahead of the deciding frame.
Ahead of the match, in the studio, Ronnie said that he had put the work in, practicing 6 hours a day. After the match he thanked Martin Gould for the practice matches over the break.
Even when he was trailing by 3-0, one could see he had been preparing seriously for this one. It was strange really: he was playing his best snooker of the season so far, and yet trailing by 3-0, with a highest break of 27. Winning the last before the MSI, with a century was massive.
Here is the report by Shamoon Hafez for the BBC:
Masters snooker 2021: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats Ding Junhui with stunning comeback
Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan launched a stunning comeback from 5-3 down to beat Ding Junhui 6-5 in the first round at the Masters.
China’s Ding, the 2011 champion, made a blistering start with breaks of 83, 75 and 73 for a 3-0 lead, but O’Sullivan responded with runs of 103 and 60.
The pair traded superb centuries in the next three frames as Ding went 5-3 up.
O’Sullivan hit back again by punishing Ding’s missed chances, claiming victory with 73 in a final-frame decider.
John Higgins faces Mark Allen in the evening session (19:00 GMT), with the winner of that match to face O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals on Friday.
O’Sullivan came from behind time and time again to claim a sixth world title in August and showed his mettle under pressure once more to claim a fifth victory over Ding in as many meetings at the Masters.
With the event taking place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena, spectators missed out on a stellar spectacle which featured four centuries and six further breaks of 70 or more.
O’Sullivan said: “I just had to hang in there. He started off well and I tried to nick a couple of frames. I thought, ‘am I capable of putting three frames together against Ding?’ But had to put that to the back of my mind.
“You have to try and put some pressure on your opponent, it was a mental battle out there, it always is. If you can get that right, you will be difficult to beat.”
World number nine Ding added: “I had good chances to win the match but did not make them. I sometimes made it complicated to win frames, I just needed to take simple shots and take the points. I sometimes confused myself.
“Ronnie played a bit better than the first half and I sometimes chose the wrong positional shots.”
Rocket Downs Ding In Classic
World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 5-3 down to beat Asian number one Ding Junhui 6-5 in an enthralling first round clash at the Betfred Masters in Milton Keynes.
The Rocket has won the Masters more than any other player, having claimed the prestigious title on seven occasions. He last won the event in 2017, when he defeated Joe Perry in the final.
Next up six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan will face either John Higgins or Mark Allen, who contest this evening’s final opening round tie.
O’Sullivan’s victory today saw him enhance an already commanding advantage over Ding in their head-to-head record, he now leads 17-4. Ding was Masters champion in 2011, but since then he has lost in the opening round eight times in his previous ten appearances.
Ding got off to a tremendous start this afternoon, crafting runs of 83, 75 and 73 to open up a 3-0 advantage. O’Sullivan replied with a break of 103 to trail 3-1 at the mid-session.
When play resumed a sublime break of 60 saw 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan cut his arrears in half and make it 3-2. The pair then produced a barrage of centuries, Ding fired in a fine break of 129 to move two ahead, before O’Sullivan composed a run of exactly 100. Ding then moved a frame from victory with a break of 128 to make it 5-3.
Ding, a winner of 14 ranking event titles, then spurned a golden opportunity to close out the tie, missing a routine long red. That allowed O’Sullivan to pounce with a clearance of 47 to make it 5-4. He then forced a decider with a break of 85, after Ding went in off. O’Sullivan secured the final frame with 73 to win 6-5.
O’Sullivan said: “It was nice to make a bit of a game of it. Even if I lost 6-3, I played well and didn’t do a lot wrong. Ding played strongly, I’m just pleased to get over the line.
“It is a tough game. It is mental, physical and confidence – if you are lacking in any of those departments it is tough. You can play great for three quarters of the match, but if you can’t hold it together at the end that will be your Achilles heal.
“I enjoy every game I play, even if I play terribly. I’m not ferocious. I watched the Lance Armstrong documentary the other day and I just couldn’t relate to that intensity. I’m not that kind of character. I’m more chilled out.
“I was listening to Jeff Bezos and he said, no matter what job you have, if you can enjoy 80% of it then you are doing really well. No matter what you do, there will be 20% you won’t like but you have to put up with it. I am like that, everybody has to do things they don’t want to do. I’m privileged and enjoy what I do.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hard work pays off with epic Ding Junhui victory at the Masters
Phil Haigh – Wednesday 13 Jan 2021 5:14 pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan says a lot of hard hours on the practice table have helped him into the Masters quarter-final after a superb comeback victory over Ding Junhui in round one.
The Rocket looked on the brink of defeat with Ding 5-3 ahead and with a superb chance to clinch the match, but the Chinese star spurned the opportunity.
The reigning world champion kept his cool where Ding could not and won the final three frames of the match to book his spot in the last eight in dramatic fashion.
Although there were nerves on display at the end from Ding, it was a match of superb quality, with both men knocking in two centuries and O’Sullivan says it is down to a lot of hard work in practice.
‘I’ve been doing six hours every day, I ain’t seen no family and friends,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport.
‘You put the graft in…but it doesn’t always works like that, I’ve put loads of graft in before and not got a result for two years, so it don’t always work.
‘I did seven one day with Gouldy [Martin Gould], that was epic, he killed me, I’ve never played that long.’
The Rocket admits that he thought the match was slipping away from him and questioned his ability to make the huge comeback, but it was his mental resolve that got him over the line.
‘He started off well, I didn’t really get into the game,’ said the 45-year-old.
‘I just tried to nick a couple of frames, when it got to 3-2 I thought it could get a bit exciting, but he pulled away again.
‘I thought, “am I capable of putting three frames in against someone like Ding?” But I had to ignore that and just focus on one ball at a time and see what develops.
‘You’ve got to try and put some pressure on your opponent and I didn’t do that early in the game, but Ding played well, you can only play as well as your opponent allows you.
‘It was more of a mental battle out there, it always is, if you can get the mental skills right, whether you play well or not, you’ll be tough to beat.’
O’Sullivan’s form has been patchy so far this season, reaching two finals but not winning an event since the World Championship.
He exited the UK Championship very early at the hands of Alexander Ursenbacher and says that he was doing too much running at the time, something he has put right, while he has also fixed the problems he had with his tip at the Scottish Open.
‘I was playing really well up until my tip went wrong,’ he said.
‘The UK was a complete write off, I’d just overdone the running, not to make excuses but I was absolutely exhausted.
‘Running has took number one priority. But other than that I think I’ve been pretty good all season, it was just when my tip came off. After that my performances got worse and worse.
‘I was bad at the UK, I’d overdone the running, it hit me, I was gone.
‘No excuses, Ursenbacher played great but I was struggling to get the right balance.’
O’Sullivan now takes on either John Higgins or Mark llen in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Here are some images shared by WST on twitter:
and short videos shared by WST as well, as the match unfolded
Ronnie clears the table, with frame 1 beyond rescue to get a feel of the table. It’s the only frame where he did this.
Ding makes it 2-0
The opening red by Ronnie in frame 4 – first step to the comeback
Ronnie develops the pack in frame 4 – second step to the comeback
Ronnie forces a deciding frame
And some more by Eurosport UK:
Ronnie tells Rachel that he has been putting the work in
Ronnie’ 75th Masters century
Ding is one frane away
Ronnie punishes Ding error to stay in the match
Ronnie forces a decider
Ronnie clinches the match
Hilarious – Ronnie about beinh “hopeless” at the Scottish Open after he found a lovely running track…