UK Snooker Championship 2017: Ronnie O’Sullivan recovers to reach quarter-finals

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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.

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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

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Murphy eases to victory over Walden – five best shots

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.”

Quarter-final draw

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)

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