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O’Sullivan hits back to beat Ding


Dates: 10-17 January Venue: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app. Highlights on BBC Two and online.

Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan launched a stunning comeback from 5-3 down to beat Ding Junhui 6-5 in the first round at the Masters.

China’s Ding, the 2011 champion, made a blistering start with breaks of 83, 75 and 73 for a 3-0 lead, but O’Sullivan responded with runs of 103 and 60.

The pair traded superb centuries in the next three frames as Ding went 5-3 up.

O’Sullivan hit back again by punishing Ding’s missed chances, claiming victory with 73 in a final-frame decider.

John Higgins faces Mark Allen in the evening session (19:00 GMT), with the winner of that match to face O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals on Friday.

O’Sullivan came from behind time and time again to claim a sixth world title in August and showed his mettle under pressure once more to claim a fifth victory over Ding in as many meetings at the Masters.

With the event taking place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena, spectators missed out on a stellar spectacle which featured four centuries and six further breaks of 70 or more.

O’Sullivan said: “I just had to hang in there. He started off well and I tried to nick a couple of frames. I thought, ‘am I capable of putting three frames together against Ding?’ But had to put that to the back of my mind.

“You have to try and put some pressure on your opponent, it was a mental battle out there, it always is. If you can get that right, you will be difficult to beat.”

World number nine Ding added: “I had good chances to win the match but did not make them. I sometimes made it complicated to win frames, I just needed to take simple shots and take the points. I sometimes confused myself.

“Ronnie played a bit better than the first half and I sometimes chose the wrong positional shots.”

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