RONNIE O’Sullivan twice came from behind to eventually see off a battling Anthony Hamilton and advance to the last 16 of the Welsh Open in Cardiff.
Hamilton led 1-0 and 2-1, but a combination of missed opportunities and the Rocket finding some of his best form meant that he was unable to press home his advantage.
O’Sullivan made the game’s first error when he clipped a loose red on the path back to the balk cushion. When he next came to the table, he missed a long red to the corner pocket to present Hamilton – who he has beaten in 10 of their 12 meetings – with a good opportunity.
The Sheriff of Pottingham made no mistake, building a measured break of 65 to take the first frame.
After scoring 108 points without reply, Hamilton missed a red to the middle pocket to allow O’Sullivan to return to the table, and the Rocket – arguably the greatest break-builder the game has ever seen – made no mistake, firing in 63 to level matters at one apiece.
O’Sullivan looked to be on course for a second break of 50 or more in the third frame, but, surprisingly, broke down on 36 when he missed a simple black to the corner.
With the reds nicely spread, this was an excellent opportunity for Hamilton cash in, and he looked to be on course to do so until he missed a red with the rest. However, a careless shot from O’Sullivan allowed his opponent to return immediately and clear up the remaining balls to restore his one-frame advantage.
O’Sullivan will have been disappointed with the manner in which he lost the previous frame, but he was able to put that frustration to one side and make amends with a faultless break of 118 – the 1,041st century of a remarkable career – to take the fourth frame and level the match for a second time.
An impressive, purposefully hit mid-range red set O’Sullivan on the way to a break of 81 to secure the fifth frame, as the Rocket moved into the lead for the first time in the contest.
With all of the reds potted and O’Sullivan holding a 27-point lead in the sixth frame, Hamilton missed a crucial pink to the middle pocket, seeing it hit the near jaw.
O’Sullivan returned to pot the yellow and green, which was enough to see him over the line and into the next stage of the competition, which takes place this evening.