Ronnie O’Sullivan advanced to the last eight of the Northern Ireland Open with a 4-2 win over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
The Thai was not overawed by facing the world champion and had his chances to cause a shock. However, he faltered at key stages in the fifth and sixth frames, and on both occasions O’Sullivan stepped in to punish his opponent and seal the win.
After beating Matthew Stevens earlier in the day, O’Sullivan returned to complete his Moving Day in fine style and remains on course to go one better than in the previous two years of the tournament.
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Taking an eye off O’Sullivan and Thepchaiya is not advised, given the pace they play. O’Sullivan got in the opening frame, but was unfortunate to pot the blue only to see a red go in when attempting to split the pack. Thepchaiya jumped out of his chair and gave a passable impression of his opponent by knocking in a break of 85 in under five minutes.
Thepchaiya got in first in the second frame, but he played a pink into the middle with too much pace and it failed to drop. O’Sullivan - who watched Thepchaiya intently during his break of 85 - did not waste the chance, as he stroked in a swift and impressive 106 to level the scores.
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World champion O’Sullivan relishes playing against an opponent who operates at a fast pace, so a meeting with Thepchaiya was always likely to suit. Thepchaiya had a chance in the third, but missed a long blue and O’Sullivan was out of his chair before the balls had come to rest.
A shade over five minutes later, last year’s beaten finalist was in front courtesy of a 60, which included an audacious long black from a tight angle.
At the World Championship earlier this year, Thepchaiya was thrashed 10-1 by O’Sullivan. The fear was that he would wilt after falling behind, but the Thai dispelled that notion with a break of 98 to level the match at two frames apiece.
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Thepchaiya was well set to move ahead in the match, but his break broke down at 66. O’Sullivan rolled in a tough red into the middle to get his break going and he cleared with a 70 to punish the error.
The Thai faltered again when well set in the sixth and later in the frame he missed a yellow that he probably should not have taken, which allowed O'Sullivan to step in and claim victory.
Up next for O'Sullivan is a meeting with Ding Junhui, who ran out a 4-1 winner over John Higgins. Breaks of 82 and 95 were too much for Higgins, who won the first frame but was then overpowered.
Ali Carter and Kurt Maflin are in the same half of the draw as O’Sullivan and they moved into the last eight with wins over Ben Woollaston and Igor Figueiredo respectively.
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