Matthew Stevens beat Ronnie O’Sullivan for the first time in 12 years, winning 4-3 to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open in Cardiff.
Defending champion O’Sullivan fell in the third round after an exciting contest in which both players missed numerous chances. Local fans gave a rousing cheer for Carmarthen’s Stevens as he ended a run of nine consecutive defeats against five-time World Champion O’Sullivan.
A break of 57 gave O’Sullivan the first frame and he cleared with 36 for 2-0. He might have won the third but missed a tough long pot on the final blue and Stevens gained a foothold in the match by potting blue and pink, before making an 80 for 2-2.
O’Sullivan regained the lead with a 57 clearance and might have sealed victory in frame six but missed the final yellow and Stevens made an excellent clearance on the colours including a superb blue to a baulk corner. Both players had chances in the decider but it was Stevens who build a handy lead with a top run of 38 and eventually clinched it when his opponent failed to gain the snooker he needed on the brown.
“I missed a chance to go 3-2 up, but then I was pleased with my clearance to stay in the match at 3-3,” said Stevens, who has never reached the final of this event. “I scraped over the line although I was fortunate that Ronnie missed a lot of balls. I’ll take any win against him. It has been 12 years since I beat him and maybe that’s why it took so long for me to close it out. It’s nice to give the Welsh crowd something to cheer about.
“I was going for my shots today because I felt as if I would get most of them. I’m not getting carried away because I’m only in the last 16, but I am a danger.”
O’Sullivan said: “Matthew played a good match and deserved his win. He’s had a lean few years but he’s a great player and has under-achieved. It’s unfortunate for me but that’s snooker – you win some and lose some and have to accept the losses. It was a good crowd and a good atmosphere – I’m just disappointed to have lost.”
Ben Woollaston continued his fine run by beating Mark Allen 4-3 with a top run of 90. Allen led 1-0 and 2-1 but it was Leicester’s Woollaston who eventually won with runs of 43 and 30 in the decider.
Ali Carter built a 3-1 lead over Matthew Selt with a top break of 103 before being hauled back to 3-3. But Carter, enjoying his best run since his return from cancer treatment, took the decider 67-19.
Gary Wilson scored one of his best career wins, beating Joe Perry 4-2 with a best break of 72.