Snooker: Erratic Ronnie O’Sullivan edges out Marcus Campbell

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RONNIE O’Sullivan dug deep to beat Scotland’s Marcus Campbell 5-4 in a deciding frame and reach the second round of the China Open yesterday.

The “Rocket” was nowhere near his best form in Beijing and looked unfocused as he slipped 3-0 behind, but a reprieve in the final frame before the mid- session interval allowed him to embark on a comeback.

Campbell missed an easy blue with the tight first frame seemingly won, but O’Sullivan gifted it straight back to him by taking on an over-ambitious black, and then conceded the next immediately after Campbell ended a long safety exchange by potting the final red.

In frame three, Campbell got the snooker he required on the pink and produced a great positional shot before holding his nerve to secure a re-spot, potting a second black to lead 3-0.

The Scot came back from needing four snookers in the next only to miss a routine pink, allowing O’Sullivan to get himself on the scoreboard before the interval. And it proved the turning point as a series of good pots on the colours cut the arrears to one, a 65 break levelled matters and a 48 edged him ahead for the first time.

Dumbarton player Campbell set up a decider, in which he went 41 ahead, but O’Sullivan made a magnificent 77 to snatch victory and set up a clash with Mark Williams, who hammered home player Jin Long 5-1.

But Shaun Murphy suffered a shock exit to 18-year-old qualifier Lu Ning, who gave the Chinese crowd something to cheer with a stunning 5-2 win. Lu will face Ali Carter after the world number 14 battled past Dominic Dale 5-4. Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen suffered a surprise exit at the hands of Ricky Walden. Allen, coming off the back of his victory in the World Open in Haikou earlier this month, went down to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of Englishman Walden, who will now face Stephen Maguire in the next round.

World champion John Higgins is safely through to the last 16 after seeing off Rory McLeod 5-1 and will now face Peter Ebdon, a 5-3 winner over Matthew Stevens yesterday.

Stuart Bingham also progressed after defeating fellow Englishman Joe Perry 5-4.