The answer to life, the universe and everything: O’Sullivan turns 42 today
O’Sullivan has lost just five frames in his three matches so far in York and will now face Barry Hawkins or Sunny Akani in round four. He is chasing his sixth UK title and third ranking event of the season having won the English Open and Shanghai Masters.
World number four O’Sullivan, the highest ranked player left in the tournament, was not at his best today but capitalised on a series of mistakes from Welshman White. The first two frames were shared, then O’Sullivan took three in a row with breaks of 132, 64 and 71.
Frame six was a scrappy affair and came down to the colours, O’Sullivan converting a thin cut on the blue to a centre pocket to go 5-1 ahead. And he sealed the result in the next with a run of 65.
“This game is like golf – if you’re not set up right or you’re not in line it can affect everything,” said O’Sullivan. “We all go through that and some of us can go through that a little bit better than others, like Seve Ballesteros or Tiger Woods. They’re able to get it round sometimes and that’s what I was able to do today.
“It’s part of the art of the game, some people can do it and some can’t. I’ve won a lot of my matches and tournaments having to do that. It’s great to play fluently but that’s not always the case. Mark Williams, Judd Trump and Luca Brecel are shot makers and so is Mark Selby – he’s able to scramble it round probably better than anyone else. There’s a yin and yang with everything though – with the more robotic players, when they’re really ‘on’ they tend not to make any mistakes.
“Michael didn’t play well today, he was struggling out there and the more you miss, the harder it gets. He got loads of bad luck as well and I felt for him because I like him and he loves the game. It can be frustrating out there and I wasn’t brilliant, but I think I scrambled a bit better out there.”
White said: “I was absolutely awful, so frustrated with myself. It’s just bitterly disappointing. I need to get to grips with dealing with the pressure over events that last a long period of time otherwise the same thing is going to keep happening. He was far from his best but I just couldn’t do anything in the end. In the final frame I didn’t really want to be there at all. I knew my mind had completely gone.”
John Higgins came through a tough tie with Yan Bingtao, winning 6-3 to set up a match with Mark King. Three-time UK Champion Higgins went 3-0 up with top breaks of 66 and 80 then China’s Yan, runner-up at the recent Northern Ireland Open, fought back to 3-3 with top runs of 79 and 81. But Wishaw’s Higgins made a vital 67 to win the seventh frame, and dominated the last two with a top break of 66.
Higgins revealed after his second round match that he needed a new tip on his cue, and yesterday he drove to Southport to have the work done by former pro Les Dodd. “If I had have kept the old tip on I’d have just lost 6-0 today, but with the new one after an hour it felt a lot better,” said the Scot. “I thought I competed well with Yan today and my safety game was good, which it had to be because he’s such a good player.”
Mark King pulled away from 3-3 to beat Luca Brecel 6-3 with a top run of 101. Martin Gould top scored with 84 in a 6-4 win over Hossein Vafaei. Gould still has a chance of getting into the top 16 in the race for the Masters though he needs at least a semi-final berth.