Monday 27 March 2017

Snooker: Misfiring Rocket stays in touch with Selby

Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images

John Skilbeck

Mark Selby let Ronnie O'Sullivan off the hook as an intriguing first session between two of snooker's most potent potters was littered with mistakes and finished all square yesterday.

The World Championship quarter-final was expected to be a thriller following the superb Masters final which the pair contended in January, but it did not begin in the manner of that Wembley match, which Selby won 10-9 from 9-6 down.

Selby looked to be getting under O'Sullivan's skin and the quality was low as both players missed easy balls. Eventually, the Rocket finished off with a break of 81 to draw level at 4-4, but his potting was as unpredictable as his behaviour.

At one stage in frame three, O'Sullivan sat in the front row with journalists, while Selby played a shot, to the amusement of the audience, and then he left his seat to watch events on the other table for several minutes, peering around the curtain to check on Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy.

Those expecting a high-tempo match filled with century breaks were left to wonder what the two men were playing at during the first frame, which dragged on for 42 minutes and 17 seconds.

It contained nine fouls and a top break of 35, with the next highest break worth just eight.

O'Sullivan finally took it, and thankfully the standard improved a touch. Selby fired in an 84 after both men had spurned earlier chances in the second frame, and the Leicester man then took advantage of more slackness from O'Sullivan to edge ahead.

O'Sullivan hauled himself level before Selby made a 90 break to edge ahead again at 3-2.

Selby conceded in the sixth frame with O'Sullivan 67-1 up, but with 67 points left to play for, deciding his opponent was bound to pot one of the reds he had left in open play.

Blunders continued to come from both men and Selby won a seventh frame in which the highest break was his closing 25 as he pinched it on the final black.

Selby then twice got to the table and potted red and yellow before breaking down in the last frame of the day and O'Sullivan made his highest break of the match.

Neil Robertson acted the part of the villain at the Crucible Theatre as he closed in on the kill against Steve Davis. Davis was on the brink of making a painful exit trailing 12-4 after yesterday's second session.

Robertson looked set to go through with a session to spare but still needs one more frame after Davis took the last two to postpone what is surely an inevitable defeat.

Irish Independent

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