Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged with a 4-2 win in an intriguing clash with Germany’s Lukas Kleckers on day two of the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open, to keep his hopes of snooker’s £1 million bonus alive.
The Rocket is the only man left in the running for the jackpot, which comes with winning all four Home Nations events. He was victorious at the recent English Open, where he demolished Kyren Wilson 9-2 in the final to lift the title.
Last week the in-form O’Sullivan added a 30th ranking title to his collection after defeating Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the Shanghai Masters. Despite the quick turnaround, the Rocket showed no signs of tiredness in his play this evening.
The match got off to an electric start as O’Sullivan burst out of the blocks, making a break of 91 to take the lead, before following that up with a run of 126 to move 2-0 in front. The German then showed great character and responded with a superb break of 137, before a contribution of 60 helped him to restore parity at 2-2.
O’Sullivan took the next two frames to reach the line at 4-2. However, afterwards he admitted he didn’t expect the world number 127 to produce the standard he did this evening.
O’Sullivan said: “I took a bit of a liberty going for a long red at 2-0 – I don’t know who he is and have never seen him play. Then I’m sitting down for two frames, thinking what’s going on, and had to dig it out.
“I didn’t think he could make 20 or 30, and he’s knocked in a 137. Lesson learned, I won’t take liberties again.”
Stuart Carrington secured a shock 4-2 defeat of world number two Judd Trump to book his place in the last 64.
There were doubts as to whether Trump would be able to play today, having had trouble getting his cue back from Shanghai. He was eventually able to pick it up from the airport and make the trip over to Belfast.
World number 52 Carrington had lost out to Trump their only two previous meetings, however the Grimsby potter crafted breaks of 56, 79 and 52 on his way to the win.
Carrington said: “I’ve faced him about 50 times since playing him as a junior and I think I have only beaten him once. Judd is right up at the top of the game now and so it is nice to get a win over him.”
John Higgins secured a 4-2 victory over 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond to book his place in the last 64, while fellow Scot Stephen Maguire secured a 4-0 whitewash against Egypt’s Basem Eltahhan.
Jack Lisowski continued his great run of form with a 4-0 win over Sean O’Sullivan. The 26-year-old will be hoping to go deep in the event, having reached his first ranking semi-final at last week’s Shanghai Masters.
2016 English Open winner Liang Wenbo defeated young Welsh star Jackson Page 4-1 and Mark Williams eased to a 4-0 win over James Wattana.
Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong overturned World Grand Prix champion Barry Hawkins in a final frame decider winning 4-3.