Ronnie O'Sullivan survived a sloppy start to beat Dominic Dale and progress to the second round of the 2021 Scottish Championship.
The experienced Welshman at times looked in control of the early exchanges, but a crucial error when in frame-winning position in the fifth allowed O'Sullivan the chance to move a frame away from victory.
By now playing with a degree of freedom, O'Sullivan compiled a delightful clearance of 132, the only century of the match, to seal a 4-2 win.
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"It's like a nine-to-five job now," O'Sullivan told Eurosport after his victory. "You try and win your first match and get your expenses paid. He just wasn't able to put me away. I did [enjoy it], even if I didn't get anything going.
"I just thought it was so bad, instead of trying to play to carefully, just go for it, go for broke. Sometimes they go in - happy days!"
Dale took the opening frame with a tidy break of 68, but "The Rocket" was able to level despite a lack of early fluency in Llandudno.
O'Sullivan edged ahead by winning a back-and-forth third frame though looked some way short of his best, and missed an ambitious red to allow Dale to square the encounter up at two frames apiece.
The Welshman appeared in a winning position in frame five, but a missed three-ball plant ended a promising break in the fifties, and O'Sullivan pounced, producing somewhere near his best cueing for the first time in the match.
Starting with an exceptional cut red to the corner and fine positional shot on the brown, O'Sullivan knocked in the last red in outstanding fashion along the cushion before leaving only the black on the table to take a 3-2 lead.
It was a frame that ignited O'Sullivan, who sealed victory with a magnificent clearance of 132.

O'Sullivan, Dale have a catch-up during Scottish Open match

A beaten finalist at this event last year, O'Sullivan, who celebrated his 46th birthday on Sunday, will face Michael Georgiou in the second round.
"I'm enjoying it," said O'Sullivan of an event he has won only once (2000). "Maybe I'll go and run the Snowdonia mountains while I'm here. I'm just going to try and enjoy it a bit."
In other first round action, UK Championship semi-finalist Barry Hawkins failed to register a single frame as Pang Junxu powered to a surprisingly dominant 4-0 win.
Jack Lisowski crashed out with a below-par performance against Stuart Carrington (4-1), who will face Jamie Jones in the second round, while Ding Junhui also exited at an early stage, beaten 4-3 by Chinese compatriot Zhang Anda.
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Stream the Scottish Open live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live via Eurosport and at eurosport.co.uk
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