|2017 UK Championship|
|Date: 28 Nov-10 Dec Venue: York Barbican|
|Coverage: Watch live across BBC Two, BBC Red Button, Connected TV, the BBC Sport website and mobile app from 2 December.|
Five-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was given a big scare as he beat world number 84 Sunny Akani 6-5 in the fourth round of the UK Championship.
The 22-year-old Thai showed no signs of early nerves against his idol, a fine break of 74 taking him 2-0 in front.
World number four O’Sullivan scored a 121 and a 98 to pull level, but Akani won the next two frames to lead 4-2.
O’Sullivan hit back again and, despite going 5-4 behind after a 128 by Akani, rode his luck to progress.
The 42-year-old, who has progressed into the last eight at the UK Championship 16 times, joins world number six Shaun Murphy – the only other remaining seed – in the last eight.
The pair could meet in the final, but O’Sullivan’s next test comes against world number 18 Martin Gould.
Gould had earlier fought back from 4-3 down to edge a nervy match 6-4 against China’s Xiao Guodong at the York Barbican.
The afternoon’s other last-16 tie saw Murphy secure a convincing 6-1 win over Ricky Walden, while Englishman Mark Joyce beat China’s Lyu Haotian 6-4 to set up a meeting with Ryan Day.
Ronnie rides his luck
O’Sullivan’s participation in the quarter-finals is mainly down to Akani’s misfortune, as the rookie looked to be closing out victory in a thrilling match of increasing tension.
Akani potted a brilliant green in the 10th frame but also pocketed the blue while trying to dislodge it from the cushion, and O’Sullivan took advantage to take the match into a final frame.
“I felt a bit sorry for him,” said O’Sullivan, following a casual performance littered with surprising misses. “He deserved to win and I felt like I robbed him of a victory.
“He was unfortunate but that’s the way snooker goes sometime. I will be lucky to get a couple of frames [on Friday] if I play like that.
“I don’t follow the game and I have virtually no interest until I go to play. If Martin beats me fair play, but it doesn’t get me emotionally any more.”
Akani, who beat world number eight Barry Hawkins 6-0 in the previous round, said: “It was a fantastic match. I tried to play more attacking. I really enjoyed it so I am very happy.
“He said I played a good standard and I was very good. In the 10th frame I potted the green and the blue but it can happen.”
Routine progress for Murphy
The afternoon session saw 2008 champion Murphy begin with two breaks in excess of 50 to establish a 2-0 lead, and a slick 114 made it 3-0.
Walden hit a fine 80 in reply to take frame four, but Murphy, who plays Mark King in the last eight, eased through after the interval.
“It was a bit tighter than the score suggests,” said Murphy, who faces Mark King in the quarter-finals on Friday. “I picked up a few of his crumbs. He had chances and didn’t take them.”
World number 23 Walden added: “I didn’t settle and let Shaun off early in the match. When I was finding a little bit of rhythm I made some silly errors and let him off the hook.”
Meanwhile, Gould showed his experience to close out victory with two 50-plus breaks in the final two frames.
“Sometimes you have to win ugly,” Gould said. “Neither of us has played as well as we can but I am through and that’s what counts.”
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Mark King (Eng)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Joe Perry (Eng)
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Ryan Day (Wal)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng)