Ronnie O’Sullivan squeezed past Ding Junhui 6-5 in the first round of the Players Championship at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
The pair played out a scrappy game with few big breaks between them until the later stages.
O’Sullivan was coming off the back of an impressive run at the Welsh Open, which was tempered by a surprise defeat in the final to Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown.
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He went a frame behind when Ding’s break of 65 saw him clear, before O’Sullivan hit 58 to level at 1-1.
A decent effort of 71 gave Ding the second frame, before O’Sullivan won the fourth and fifth sets to edge in front for the first time in the evening.
Ding then won 79-5 to leave the score at 3-3 with another half-century break of 53, before 58 from O’Sullivan left him two frames from victory.
The Englishman then carried on his improving form with a 103 break, but Ding again refused to be left behind and brought the score back to 5-4, before another 50-plus break made it 5-5.
In the deciding frame, O’Sullivan reeled off an unanswered 95 break to claim the night’s final action and reach the next round. He will face Jack Lisowski in the second round.
- Neil Robertson 6-1 Lu Ning
- Jack Lisowski 6-3 Martin Gould
- Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-5 Ding Junhui
- Zhou Yuelong 5-6 Barry Hawkins
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