Monday 20 August 2018

Ronnie O'Sullivan comes from three frames down to survive first round scare at the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates after beating Steven Maguire during day two of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible
Ronnie O'Sullivan celebrates after beating Steven Maguire during day two of the 2018 Betfred World Championship at The Crucible

John Skilbeck

Ronnie O'Sullivan avoided an early Crucible exit as he roared back to beat Stephen Maguire in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.

After defending champion Mark Selby's defeat on Saturday night, there was the very real danger of O'Sullivan following him out of the tournament.

The 42-year-old five-time world champion trailed Maguire 6-3 overnight but won seven out of eight frames in the second session to pull off a 10-7 victory.

Maguire squandered chance after chance to assert his dominance of the contest on Sunday, and an O'Sullivan win began to look an inevitability long before he crossed the winning line.

As Maguire sat forlornly watching O'Sullivan mop up the final balls of the match, he would have reflected on where it all went wrong.

He led 49-0 in the 11th frame and had it at his mercy, but after looking fluent he under-cut a red and presented O'Sullivan an unexpected opening. He cleared the table with a break of 86.

O'Sullivan led for the first time at 8-7 when he pinched another frame that Maguire looked to be on the point of wrapping up, capitalising with a break of 53 when the Scot missed a long red.

Maguire's game had turned ragged. Early in the next frame he bungled a blue at high speed that rattled off a middle pocket knuckle and scattered the reds. O'Sullivan's response was a clinical 77 that put him one frame from victory. That was the 1,000th frame won by O'Sullivan at the World Championship.

In the final frame too, Maguire had an early chance but stalled before putting significant points on the scoreboard, and his race was run.

O'Sullivan goes on to face Graeme Dott or Ali Carter in the second round.

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