Mark Allen narrowly avoided the nightmare of losing to his ex-girlfriend Reanne Evans – after snubbing his pre-game punch.
It was the first time the warring exes, who together have a 14-year-old daughter from a three-year relationship that ended in 2008, have been brought up to face each other in a professional match.
And Evans, the 12-time women’s world champion, turned on the tactile paper when she refused to touch Allen’s hand as he approached her before breaking off during their clash in the first round of the British Open.
Reanne Evans (right) turned down a punch from Mark Allen (left) in ex snooker battle
Allen reached out to greet his ex-partner but Evans ignored him and turned away
Think John Terry and Wayne Bridge at Stamford Bridge in 2010, but with more bad blood.
And just like Bridge’s rebuff to Terry all those years ago, Evans turned down Allen’s punch attempt before it broke for the first frame of that best-of-five grudge match. The battle for exes was on.
In the best-of-five match, Evans led 2-1 and was one red from becoming the first woman to beat a man in a televised tournament.
But Allen was able to capitalize on the 35-year-old’s failure to win fourth frame, then kept his cool to win the deciding game with a 68-break.
The awkward encounter has been compared to the John Terry and Wayne Bridge clash in 2010
Evans and Allen kept their distance throughout the match, which was broadcast live on ITV4
“It was horrible,” Allen admitted of the occasion at Leicester’s Morningside Arena.
“It was nothing that I wanted to experience too often, but I had to stay as professional as possible.
“I can hold my head up high. I treated it like any other game and showed respect where respect was due. I thought Reanne was playing well. She was unlucky in frame four and at that point she deserved to win. She played a lot better than me.
Allen declined to comment on his opponent’s refusal to touch hands at the start, but Evans said, “I was told at the start that there were no handshakes or anything.
“In my head, I had visualized the game and I went straight to the table.
“Nobody wanted this game, but you have to respect the best players. I am absolutely disgusted but I am really proud at the same time. Hopefully more girls and women start playing snooker and realize they can do it too.
The two belligerents have a daughter from their three-year relationship that ended badly in 2008
Evan’s actions may have been a revenge for Allen’s antics at the World Championships in April. The Northern Irishman was practicing in the same Crucible room that Evans was working as a BBC expert.
This prompted Allen to complain that his ex was causing a distraction and demand that he be fired. Organizers controversially complied, leaving Evans upset.
This feud in Sheffield has only highlighted tensions that have simmered for years and have even ended up in court.
Evans asked Allen to increase child support for their daughter Lauren, who was no longer happy with her previous payments by around £ 100 a month.
But the 2018 Masters champion, who has career earnings of nearly £ 3.5million, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and is in the process of divorcing his wife Kyla McGuigan.
Former World Champion Shaun Murphy (pictured) described the grudge match as a ‘car accident’
After losing the first frame, Evans took a scrappy second and had to tell his excited fans to “calm down”.
She then went up 2-1 with breaks of 56 and 49 and looked set to make history before missing a red on the pad and 2018 Masters champion Allen showed her class.
Meanwhile, John Higgins landed the 12th 147 of his career to edge Stephen Hendry and second to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the all-time maximum manufacturers list.
The 46-year-old’s clearance came in the first frame of his 3-1 win over Alexander Ursenbacher.
Meanwhile, John Higgins landed the 12th 147 of his career to place second on the all-time list.