Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 3-2 down to beat rising star Luo Honghao 5-3 and reach the semi-finals of the BetVictor English Open.
China’s 18-year-old tour rookie Luo was in with a chance of causing a massive shock when he led 3-2, but he missed chances in the closing frames as defending champion O’Sullivan took control. The Rocket goes through to face Mark Davis in Crawley on Saturday at 7pm for a place in the final. It will be his 70th ranking event semi-final and he has converted 33 of the previous 69 into titles.
World number three O’Sullivan started strongly with breaks of 118 and 90 to go 2-0 ahead. Luo showed his class as he fought back with 90, 67 and 136 to take the lead. He was 21 points ahead in frame six but O’Sullivan made a 73 clearance which proved the turning point. Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan trailed 56-0 in frame seven but cleared with 83, and he sealed victory in the next with 31 and 41.
“I was second best out there all night, he is a great talent, a special player,” said 42-year-old O’Sullivan. “This is his first year on tour, imagine what he will be like in a few years. He is dangerous and I think the best young player from China out there. I got away with that one.”
O’Sullivan was asked about an incident in the sixth frame when he brushed a red with his cue tip as he pulled it away after potting a red with the rest.
“I am devastated,” said the Essex cueman, having been shown a replay of the incident after the match. “I was only aware when they showed me in the TV studio. It’s not in me to not call a foul if I know I have done it. I feel gutted.
“It was one of those things, sometimes when you are holding the rest you are watching the white. If there are people saying stuff on social media, what can I do? Most have watched my career and 99% would know that I have owned up to fouls even when there hasn’t been a foul. And I don’t blame the referee either, she is like me, watching the white.”
Luo said: “I didn’t see it – and anyway now the match is gone and it is over.”
Stephen Maguire reached his second ranking semi-final of the season by beating Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham 5-3. Glasgow’s Maguire will now face Stuart Bingham on Saturday at 1pm.
The first six frames were shared, Maguire making breaks of 94 and 102 while Saengkham knocked in 68, 71 and 100. World number 16 Maguire then took the last two with 58 and 75.
“It’s a great result, I rate Noppon highly, he has beaten me a few times,” said Maguire. “I haven’t played a top 16 player yet this week but tonight was a test because it was a high quality match. For the last two months I have had back trouble so I have been struggling to play and my results have shown that. But this week the sciatica has gone away so I can play with my own stance.”