Day three at the 2015 dafabet Masters and enter into the tournament Ronnie O'Sullivan.
He may not currently be the world number no.1 but few would dare claim that O'Sullivan is not the best player in the world and such has been his form of late that,even with the top 16 in action here,he still started the week as a short price favourite for the title
That price only hardened following the early exits of Selby & Trump,so all eyes were on his match this afternoon with Ricky Walden to see if he could reproduce the flawless snooker he displayed in his 6-0 demolition of the same opponent here last yr.
Well the answer early on was that he couldn't but despite gifting his opponent several changes,Ronnie still went to the interval leading 3-1. On the resumption of play he visibly stepped up a gear with runs of 91 & 100 to extend that lead to 5-1.
Walden now had nothing to lose and a 100 break of his own made it 5-2. That break though looked merely a consolation as Ronnie left him needing two snookers in the next.Walden however got one snooker and from the resulting free ball cleared to make it 5-3.
Ronnie was now feeling the pressure as surely thoughts of Trumps comeback in the UK final came to mind.Those thoughts would only have gained more ground in the next as O'Sullivan missed two good chances to close out the match and Walden capitalized to close within one at 5-4.
That was to be it though as Ronnie regained his composure and with the help of a fluke on the yellow close out the match with a century,to win 6-4.
That century was the 775th of Ronnies career & was significant as it drew him level with the record held by Stephen Hendry.With the amount of snooker been played now when he finally breaks it.probably in his next match here on Thursday,it will be the last great century milestone we will see,unless he reaches the 1000 mark in a few years time & who at this stage would be brave enough to say that he wont.
Into the evening session and a well deserved rapturous reception for Ali Carter as he came out to play Barry Hawkins.
Carters health issues have been well documented in recent times and the courage he has shown in battling these illnesses has gained him much admiration from both inside & outside the snooker world.
Hopefully now he can put all that behind him and get back to what he does best on the snooker table. He certainly got off to the right start here,clinching the first with a 95 break before also taking the second with a 50 to lead 2-0.
Hawkins did get off the mark,taking the next,but this was to be Carters night as he won the next four frames on the trot,highlighted with a magnificent 130 to seal a 6-1 win.He will next face neil Robertson in the Quarter finals.
Tomorrow sees the last of the first round matches with a real cracker in afternoon as Mark Allen faces John Higgins and wrapping up in the evening when Ding Junhui faces Joe Perry.