Ronnie O'Sullivan has had an incredible record at Wembley, second only to Stephen Hendry with an impressive 4 Masters titles and an incredible 5 finals appearances in the last 6 years. He faced one of his nemeses in Antrim's Mark Allen, who famously beat Ronnie 13-11 in the second round of the World Championship in 2009.
Mark wasn't going to let Ronnie have it all his way by taking the first frame 72-0, Ronnie showed his class in the next frame to take it 115-15 with a break of 86. But Allen stormed ahead at the interval to lead 3-1 with a break of 88 in the fourth frame; O'Sullivan was missing sitters including two blacks off the spot, could he fall again at the first hurdle?
Ronnie took two of the next three scrappy frames to hit back to only 4-3 behind and then took the 8th frame with a break of 66 to level the match back to 66. Mark was looking nervous and out of sorts. But in the last two frames, Mark showed us some of the form that got him to the semi-finals of the 12BET.com UK Championship last month by taking the last two frames with the help of a break of 87 and recorded his best win of the season and goes on to play either Neil Robertson or Stephen Hendry in the quarter finals. Ronnie never looked up for the challenge today and there seems to be something on his mind the last few months, possibly the release of his father from prison and his recent divorce from his wife is still playing on his mind?
Just like Ronnie, you can never predict how these players are going to perform, Scotland's Stephen Maguire and Hong Kong's Marco Fu. Both of their records in this event haven’t been the best and they haven’t had much of a season to mention (Marco already having dropped out of the top 16 after the UK Champion) they were looking to capitalize on the draw that was opening up with all the top seeds dropping out.
Stephen was not looking good at the start, missing easy opportunities and a few long pots as well, which let Marco take 3 of the first 4 frames with the help of breaks of 50 and 109. When the players returned, Stephen was still struggling to find any form and Marco surged ahead to 5-1 with a marvellous break of 117 which made him the only player to make two centuries in a match so far. Stephen though in typical style was once again unpredictable in his nature by winning the next three frames with breaks of 53, 74 and a fantastic break of 142 which sets the pace for the high break prize to pull back to 5-4 behind, Marco was looking shell shocked.
Marco Fu showed the class that won him a Premier League and a Grand Prix title in the next frame though by getting the advantage of Maguire in a long scrappy frame. Stephen had plenty of chances including an easy mid-range yellow but failed to capitalize and thanks to the help of a well-placed Snooker, Marco took the frame to win the match 6-4. As per-usual with Stephen he seemed to let his temper get the better of him and missed many crucial opportunities to grab the match by its horns. But all credit to Marco though who produced some fantastic snooker at times including two centuries to set up a meeting with Peter Ebdon.
Mark Allen 6-4 Ronnie O'Sullivan
72-0, 15-115 (86), 63-37, 88-0 (88)62-64 (64,56), 94-8, 18-69, 30-97 (66)87-46 (87), 60-34
Marco Fu 6-4 Stephen Maguire
80-1 (54), 57-68, 70-35, 109-0 (109)117-0 (117), 73-64, 0-100 (53), 4-75 (74)0-142 (142), 67-29
Most images courtesy of World Snooker