Ronnie will need just one frame this to book his place in this year World Chamionship, Mark Allen will need to win nine on the trot to deny him. It’s not impossible, but it’s a task of Dantesque proportions.
Here are the WST reports on the two sessions played yesterday:
Rocket Powers To Lead Pistol
World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a superb display to establish a 6-2 lead over 2018 Masters champion Mark Allen after the opening session of their second round clash at the Betfred World Championship.
O’Sullivan is seeking a record equalling seventh world title, which would match Stephen Hendry’s tally. By competing in this year’s event, he has already levelled Steve Davis’ record of 30 Crucible appearances.
The Rocket and the Pistol have only previously met once at the Theatre of Dreams. On that occasion Allen overcame O’Sullivan 13-11 in the second round and went on to make the single table semi-finals, where he lost to John Higgins. Allen hasn’t made the last four since then.
The pair both enjoyed relatively comfortable first round wins this year. O’Sullivan defeated David Gilbert 10-5, while Allen beat Scott Donaldson 10-6.
O’Sullivan had a packed Crucible crowd on tenterhooks in the opening frame this morning, where he had a good opportunity for a maximum break. However, he landed on the wrong side of the 10th red and elected to play for the pink. His run eventually broke down on 87.
Allen responded with a contribution of 68, but it was at that moment that 38-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan found his top gear. Breaks of 131, 69, 96 and 57 helped him to five on the bounce and a 6-1 lead. O’Sullivan had a chance to add the last frame of the session, but fell out of position on 22 and Allen claimed the frame to end just four behind at 6-2.
They will return for the second session of this best of 25 encounter this evening at 7pm.
Those are the match stats after the first session:
Here is Ronnie’s 131 in frame three
Something very unusual happened there. After Mark Allen fouled and about every ball on the table moved, there was nothing available for Ronnie, and initially Olivier Martell was asked to replace the balls. It was a nearly impossible task and it would definitely have taken some time. The players had merci on the referee and agreed to ask for a re-rack…
Clive Brown is a very experienced referee. Here is his opinion on the decision to go ahead with the re-rack:
I can’t say I’ve seen that happen before, but if both players were happy to take that course of action, I guess there’s nothing to prevent it. Strictly frames should only be re-started in a stalemate situation, but I guess if both players thought it was the fairest solution in the circumstances then I don’t think I’d have objected. After all, when you’re replacing numerous balls they’re never going to be millimetre perfect when replaced and will interact differently to what they would have done originally, so definitely a good decision in the interests of fair play IMHO.
This was in answer to a question by a fan on a facebook forum dedicated to snooker rules and referees.
O’Sullivan On The Verge
World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan is on the cusp of a quarter-final spot at the Betfred World Championship, after moving 12-4 up on Mark Allen following their second session.
The Rocket requires just one frame for a 20th Crucible quarter-final appearance, which would be a new record and move him ahead of Stephen Hendry. Victory would also eclipse Hendry’s record of 70 match wins at the Theatre of Dreams.
The only previous meeting between Allen and O’Sullivan in the World Championship came 13 years ago back in 2009. On that occasion Northern Ireland’s Allen won 13-11 en route to the semi-finals. O’Sullivan looks to be on course to avenge that defeat this time around.
O’Sullivan put on a superb display in this morning’s first session to gain a 6-2 stranglehold on proceedings. It was 2018 Masters champion Allen who took the first frame of the evening to spark his hopes of a fightback. However, six-time World Champion O’Sullivan began to turn the screw and breaks of 67 and 88 moved him 8-3 ahead.
The 12th frame left the Sheffield crowd anticipating a potential maximum break, when O’Sullivan deposited 11 reds and 11 blacks. He nudged a red safe on the cushion and a failed attempt at a double ended his run on 88.
A clearance of 53 then saw O’Sullivan steal the 13th on the black and kept alive his chances of wrapping up the tie a session early. Those chances were quickly extinguished when Allen fired in a fine century run of 110 to make it 10-4.
O’Sullivan came from 49 points down to win the penultimate frame and 30 points behind in the final frame, where he made a century run of exactly 100, to end one from the win at 12-4.
They will return for the concluding session of this best of 25 encounter tomorrow at 2:30pm.
Those are the scores so far:
I was, for the best part of it, a masterclass in break building by Ronnie.
In the evening they had the arena for themselves after Mark Williams had beaten Jackson Page with a session to spare.