|Appointment: January 10-17 Lieu: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes|
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Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan threw a stunning 5-3 comeback to beat Ding Junhui 6-5 in the Masters first round.
China’s Ding, the 2011 champion, got off to a flying start with breaks of 83, 75 and 73 for a 3-0 lead, but O’Sullivan responded with points of 103 and 60.
The pair traded stunning centuries in the next three frames as Ding rose 5-3.
O’Sullivan fought back again by punishing Ding’s missed opportunities, taking the victory with 73 in a decisive final.
John Higgins will face Mark Allen in the evening session (19:00 GMT), the winner of that game taking on O’Sullivan in the quarter-final on Friday.
O’Sullivan came from behind time and time again to win a sixth world title in August and showed his mettle under pressure once again to claim a fifth victory over Ding in as many Masters appearances.
With the event taking place behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena, spectators missed out on a stellar spectacle that featured four centuries and six more breaks of 70 or more.
O’Sullivan said, “I just had to hang on. It started well and I tried to cut some frames. I was like, ‘Am I able to put three cadres together against Ding? But I had to put it in the back of my mind.
“You have to try to put pressure on your opponent, it was a mental battle there, it still is. If you can do it right, you will be hard to beat. “
World number nine Ding added, “I had a good chance of winning the game, but I didn’t. Sometimes I made it difficult to gain frames, I just needed to take simple shots and take the points. I got confused sometimes.
“Ronnie played a little better than the first half and I sometimes picked the wrong position shots. “
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