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'One of Ronnie's greatest victories': O'Sullivan sets up potential Mark Allen quarter-final with sensational comeback win over Ding Junhui


Ronnie O’Sullivan (Steven Paston/PA)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (Steven Paston/PA)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (Steven Paston/PA)

Mark Allen will meet an in-form Ronnie O'Sullivan in the quarter-final of the Betfred Masters if he can see off John Higgins in tonight's first round tie.

O'Sullivan survived an effective match ball, which would have put Junhui in to complete a 6-3 victory over the seven-time champion, before roaring back to win three successive frames and carry off one of the most sensational successes of his storied career so far.

"This will be one of Ronnie O'Sullivan's greatest victories in my eyes," said legendary BBC commentator John Virgo as the Rocket cleared up the balls in a deciding frame.

"Sometimes we question his attitude but there's been nothing wrong with it today. He's hung in there, albeit with some help from his opponent, and now he has a chance to win a match he never looked like winning.

"Ronnie has absolutely produced the goods here and it absolutely goes without saying now, he is the man to beat in this year's Masters. He has already won seven titles, I wouldn't want to bet against it being eight."

It was a match of the highest quality, featuring five centuries in all including a stretch of four in five frames.

Junhui had raced into a 3-0 lead against a disjointed O'Sullivan, who scored just 42 points over the course of those opening three frames.

However, the seven-time Masters champion roared into action with his first century break, following it up with another frame victory to reduce to deficit to 3-2. Century trades in the next two frames, as the quality of snooker on show went sky high, were followed by Junhui's third century of the match, opening up a 5-3 lead and putting O'Sullivan on the brink of exiting the tournament.

However, when Junhui was let in for what looked like a match-winning visit in the following frame, he miscued on a red.

After O'Sullivan punished the miss and went on to level the match to force a deciding frame, which he eventually won to seal the most remarkable of successes.

Should Allen, ranked 10th in the world, do his bit against number six John Higgins, he would set up a repeat of the November match that ended in contentious fashion, with Allen branding O'Sullivan a "bully" after winning their Champion of Champions quarter-final.

The pair clashed over what O'Sullivan deemed to be distraction tactics from Allen, arguing that the Northern Irishman was "continuously" getting in his line during his shots.

O'Sullivan confronted Allen during the match and then began to take his time over shots so that his opponent would "get the message".

"Ronnie tries to bully people out there but I was having none of it," the Antrim man said afterwards.

"It was uncomfortable for Ronnie. I don't know what he was on about. He said I was in his eyeline, moving in my seat."

Belfast Telegraph