Ronnie O'Sullivan pays for errors to crash out of China Championship against Luca Brecel
Ronnie O'Sullivan blew a 4-1 lead and missed an easy brown in the final frame in losing 5-4 to Luca Brecel in the China Championship last eight in Guangzhou.
The five-times world champion appeared to be coasting through with breaks of 85 and 55 helping him establish a 4-1 lead, but runs of 110 and 103 saw Brecel claw back to 4-3 behind before the Belgian forced the decider by edging the eighth frame.
O'Sullivan had three obvious chances to win the match in the deciding frame, but was finally punished for appearing to get tight in the key moments.
When Brecel missed a blue to a middle pocket leading 42-27 with one red left up, O'Sullivan then missed a green with the rest trailing 42-34. Missing a brown off the black spot proved to be his final act.
His opponent potted brown, blue and pink to win his fourth straight frame against a disbelieving audience.
Brecel will face Li Hang over the best of 11 frames in the semi-finals on Monday.
World number 58 Li became only the fifth Chinese player to reach the last four of a ranking event - Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Xiao Guodong and Yu Delu are the others - with a 5-3 win over two-times world champion Mark Williams, who had led 3-0.
Li has trebled his biggest previous cheque at a tournament by reaching the last four where he is guaranteed around £32,000.
The highlights of his success included breaks of 66 in the fourth frame and a knock of 103 in the seventh as Williams lost five straight frames to join O'Sullivan in suffering defeat.
In the top half of the draw, Shaun Murphy lost the first two frames to world number 31 Zhou Yuelong before reeling off the next five for the loss of only 57 points to reach the semi-finals.
The 2005 world champion edged a tight third frame before breaks of 55, 50 and a closing 100 run secured him a place in the last four of the second ranking tournament of the season.
Murphy will face fellow Englishman Ali Carter for a place in the final after his 5-2 win over Fergal O'Brien.
The two-times World Championship finalist won the first two frames boosted by a knock of 112 in the opener only for Ireland's evergreen O'Brien to restore parity at 2-2, including a break of 124 in the third frame.
Carter went up a gear after the mid-session interval as a 65 and 76 helped to secure his progress as he seeks his first ranking title since winning the World Open a year ago.
China Championship last 16 results
- Zhou Yuelong 5-2 Martin Gould
- Stephen Maguire 0-5 Shaun Murphy
- Mike Dunn 3-5 Luca Brecel
- Mark Williams 5-3 Tom Ford
- Mark Davis 1-5 Ali Carter
- Fergal O'Brien 4-5 Alan McManus
- Graeme Dott 0-5 Ronnie O'Sullivan
- Li Hang 5-4 Matthew Stevens
China Championship quarter-finals
- Zhou Yuelong 2-5 Shaun Murphy
- Ali Carter 5-2 Fergal O'Brien
- Ronnie O'Sullivan 4-5 Luca Brecel
- Mark Williams 3-5 Li Hang
China Championship semi-finals
- Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter (Monday: 7am BST)
- Lucal Brecel v Li Hang (Monday 12:30pm BST)