A review of day two of the Scottish Open where Ronnie O'Sullivan scraped past Dominic Dale and Ding Junhui kicked off his campaign with another impressive display.
Mixed bag but Ronnie through
Ronnie O'Sullivan turned in a perplexing performance as he came from 3-1 down to beat Dominic Dale 4-3 in Glasgow.
O'Sullivan made the headlines on Saturday when announcing that he wouldn't be contesting next month's Dafabet Masters and he was very nearly involved in another big shock here as Dale found himself within one frame of victory.
A break of 59 in frame two saw Dale move into a 2-0 lead but O'Sullivan appeared certain to level the scores when setting himself up for a clearance on the colours in frame four having won the third frame thanks to a run of 80.
However, having played a wonderful cannon from pink to black, O'Sullivan inexplicably missed the final pot when the black was gaping over the middle pocket, the ball struck with so much force that white flew off the table as the black was sent crashing into the jaws before ricocheting around the table.
Nevertheless, O'Sullivan soon regained his focus and found his touch just in the nick of time, breaks of 64, 80 and 83 confining Dale to his chair as The Rocket won three frames on the bounce in quick time to ensure he will be in the draw for round two.
O'Sullivan told Eurosport afterwards: "I hadn't played since last Thursday, when I had my cue in my hand it felt really alien to me.
"At some point I thought 'hopefully I'll find some sort of rhythm', towards the end I felt I was cueing really nice."
On the missed black, O'Sullivan went on: "I just wanted to really banana it in and whip it in, but the pocket obviously couldn't take it. It's so nice to play that topspin shot, I thought 'there's no way it can't go in', but then the white jumped off the table.
"I was stunned. I love bananas.
"I feel like I'm cueing alright. You can't do much if someone goes 3-1 up on you, it's not easy. I was going for probably a few too many, but I'm enjoying it. The most important thing is to enjoy it.”
Responding to the social media criticism that came following the missed black, O'Sullivan was quick to defend himself but reasoned that his approach wouldn't be to everybody's taste.
He said: "Not everyone is going to enjoy everything. There's a lot of people that enjoy the way I've played over the years, they love the way I play snooker. It's a fine line to tread. Probably a lot of them are Selby fans.
"That's why you have Prada and TK Maxx - you don't have to go and buy Prada, you can go down to TK Maxx and get yourself a nice Dunlop t-shirt if you like. It's just variety, variety is good.”
On a dangerous, dead weight long pot late in the match, O'Sullivan added: "Let any top-16 player go there now and play that shot - I think I need a round of applause, it was a great shot.
"I love it. That's how I play in exhibitions. I don't want to be playing 50, 60-minute frames - either die early, or kill early."
In-form Ding dominant again
Ding Junhui maintained his impressive recent return to form by brushing aside Michael White 4-1 in their first-round match.
Following a wretched start to the new season, a resurgent Ding produced a dazzling display to win his third UK Championship title at the weekend and was again in excellent touch as he overpowered White with a classy performance.
Ding reeled off breaks of 60, 104, 83 and 114 as he booked his place in round two, where he will be joined by Jack Lisowksi who made a top break of 124 in his 4-1 defeat of Zhang Anda.
Elsewhere, there were safe passages for Yan Bingtao, Kurt Maflin and Ricky Walden.