Ronnie O’Sullivan has a fight on his hands in the Welsh Open final, as he trails 5-3 to Jordan Brown ahead of the second session on Sunday evening.
The world champion had been in imperious form in advancing to the final, but his timing looked awry for long spells on Sunday afternoon.
Brown took advantage to open up a three-frame lead, and even though O’Sullivan fought hard with back-to-back tons, the underdog took the final frame of the session to take a two-frame lead into the evening session at the Celtic Manor Resort.
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The first frame was a story of errors and misfortune. The majority of errors came from the cue of Brown, while plenty of misfortune befell O’Sullivan who suffered an awful kick when well set and twice went in-off. To Brown’s credit, he did take the final chance that came his way to secure the opening frame.
Brown had an excellent chance in the second, but missed a mid-length red into the bottom-right pocket and it handed the table to O’Sullivan. With his break on 25, there was a collector’s item this week as the world champion missed a routine pink into the left middle.
The error was completely unexpected, given he came into the final having lost a mere two frames all week, and it cost him the frame as Brown knocked in a break of 58.
After the shock of the miss in the second frame, O’Sullivan knocked in an excellent long red to get in at the start of the third. But a surprising miss with the break on 60 stunned Eurosport analyst Neal Foulds.
“Goodness me,” Foulds said. “That was as bad as Ronnie has ever hit one.
“It’s an expression used in snooker, we say when someone butchers a shot. It’s rarely used with O’Sullivan, but he butchered that one.”
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Fortunately for the Rocket, the red made its way from the jaws of the bottom-left pocket and dropped into the middle.
O'Sullivan acknowledged his fortune by raising his hand to Brown, and he took advantage of his slice of fortune with a break of 74.
Brown was not fazed by O’Sullivan getting a frame on the board, as he took the fourth to secure a two-frame lead at the first interval of the match - and he returned after the break to knock in his fourth century of the tournament - a 107 - to move 4-1 ahead.
Trailing by three frames, O’Sullivan required a response and he delivered in some style. He was handed an easy starter as Brown left a red over the bottom-right pocket, but from that moment he oozed class with a single-visit kill of 135.
O’Sullivan has talked this week about tinkering with his technique, and that it is a work in progress. It appeared to click into gear in the second half of the session as he knocked in a second successive ton, a 121, to move back within one frame of Brown.
The final frame was the longest, and scrappiest of the match. It went Brown’s way after he got the better of a lengthy safety exchange to secure a two-frame lead ahead of the evening session.