All the talk surrounded Ronnie O’Sullivan ahead of his first round match against Liang Wenbo, but the Chinese star was within inches of the next round before missing his final black in the 10th frame.
Defending champion O’Sullivan looked lethargic and struggled for large parts of the match as it looked as though he would be heading for an unexpected week of holiday.
Ultimately though the experience of O’Sullivan prevailed as he took his chance and cleared the table with an impressive 121 break. This was only Wenbo’s second appearance at the Master’s but he can be proud of his attempts to beat the six-time winner although will be bitterly disappointed to be so close to a win.
Ding through as expected
Ding Junhui defeated Kyren Wilson six frames to three in the evening session. The Chinese number one seed was widely expected to beat the 25-year-old from Kettering and didn’t disappoint, treating the crowd to his first victory at the prestigious tournament since lifting the trophy in 2011.
A decade after his first maximum break at the tournament as a teenager, Junhui was on course for another after potting 15 reds and 15 blacks but a mis-hit shot left him with a difficult pot for the yellow in the middle pocket which he missed.
O’Sullivan will now face either Neil Robertson or Ali Carter with Junhui meeting Stuart Bingham or Joe Perry in the quarter-final. Despite the scare for O’Sullivan both matches ultimately went to the form book and the betting odds.
Tomorrow sees John Higgins take on Mark Allen, and Bingham and Perry fight it out for a place against O’Sullivan on Thursday.