Ronnie O’Sullivan had to dig deep to see off China’s talented 16-year-old Yan Bingtao 4-2 in a pulsating opening round tie at the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix in Preston.
O’Sullivan, who won a record seventh Masters title in January, thrilled the Guild Hall crowd with a magnificent 137 break to take the opener, before winning the second to move two in front.
However, the Chinese star showed tremendous fight, reeling off two quick fire frames in just 21 minutes to go 2-2. Yan, who was part of China’s 2015 World Cup winning side, made breaks of 69, 68 and 55 to restore parity.
The Rocket then regrouped from the onslaught and showed his class, winning the following two frames by compiling runs of 59 and 128 to close out what was an enthralling clash.
Anthony McGill recorded a comfortable 4-1 defeat of David Gilbert to progress to the last 16.
It was a match where both players spurned opportunities. However, the Scot, who picked up his maiden ranking title earlier this season at the Indian Open, was the more clinical of the pair. He made a clearance of 35 to steal the third frame on the black and move 2-1 up. From there McGill pushed himself over the line thanks to contributions of 65 and 73.
“I didn’t play very well there but usually I would kick myself but I’ve prepared really well for this tournament and I need to be patient. I know the hard work has been put in,” said McGill. “I won a tournament earlier on this year so it can be done. If I play my game, I can cause some problems.”
His opponent in the last 16 will be Marco Fu, who came out on top of a high quality meeting with Jamie Jones thanks to a 4-2 win. The pair made four breaks over fifty between them, including two centuries. With Jones trailing 3-1, he produced a fine run of 121, only for Fu secure victory with a break of 85 to win 4-2.
Ali Carter overcame a late night battle with Zhou Yuelong. The Captain led 3-1 in what was a tight encounter. However, Zhou hit back to win the next two frames and force a final frame. Last week’s German Masters finalist showed his class in the decider making a telling contribution of 57 which was enough to get him over the line. He faces Mark King tomorrow evening in the last 16.