Mark Allen’s hopes of winning his home event were ended by a 4-3 defeat against Tian Pengfei at the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
The Antrim potter’s exit finishes off the chances of a winner from Northern Ireland following first round defeats for Joe Swail, Gerard Greene, Declan Brennan and Jordan Brown.
There was never more than a frame between the players today. With the score at 2-2, Tian looked to be heading one from victory before missing a pink down the cushion to allow Allen the simplest of opportunities to clinch the frame on the black and go 3-2 up.
However, runs of 50 and 51 helped the world number 63 Tian to restore parity and force a decider at 3-3. He then burst to the win with a break of 109.
Allen said: “I’ve been playing well for the last two months. I’ll just try and block out these performances as I feel my game is in good shape. Hopefully some day I can lift the trophy for the people of Northern Ireland. I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself. Just because I am the home favourite it doesn’t mean those fairy tales are going to come true. Hopefully in years to come I will be able to handle it better.”
Allen has pledged to donate the £2,500 of prize money he has earned this week to local charities, the Welcome Organisation and Cure4Cam.
Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated Welshman Duane Jones 4-0 to ease into the last 32.
The 30-time ranking winner is the only man who has a chance to win snooker’s £1 million bonus attached to winning all four Home Nations events. He claimed the title at the English Open in Barnsley after a 9-2 demolition of Kyren Wilson.
Welshman Jones had looked set to take the opener, but couldn’t get position on the final black and went in-off attempting to play safe, handing O’Sullivan the lead. From there the Rocket compiled runs of 65 and 81 as he booked a last 32 clash with Elliot Slessor.
John Higgins remains in the hunt for a 30th title after progressing to the last 32 with a 4-2 win over Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.
“I was concentrating a little bit better tonight. I knew I probably had to,” said the four-time World Champion. “It was a more free flowing game and I am pleased to beat him. He is a very dangerous player and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Defending champion Mark King booked a last 32 clash with Yan Bingtao thanks to a 4-1 defeat of Ashley Hugill and Neil Robertson continued his quest to qualify for the Masters with a 4-0 win over Billy Joe Castle.
Joe Perry secured an impressive 4-0 win over Matthew Selt, but agonisingly missed out on an opportunity for a 147 break.
The Gentleman found himself in prime position to make the perfect break in the opening frame, but snookered himself on the blue behind the pink.
Perry said: “I was disappointed. It is one of the things I wanted to achieve, make a televised 147. I just have to keep plugging away.”
Jimmy White and Ken Doherty both secured their progress to the last 32. The Whirlwind whitewashed Welshman Jak Jones 4-0. While Doherty defeated China’s Niu Zhuang 4-1.
For full results click here.