Masters snooker 2021 LIVE - Ronnie O'Sullivan takes on Ding Junhui as big names fall in first round
It's another superb total clearance from Ding, and this 128 has put him on the brink of the quarter-finals.
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The frame is secure, and a beautifully guided red to the left middle with the white near the bottom cushion keeps this break going. Effortless stuff from Ding, who now needs one more frame to beat O'Sullivan at the Masters for the first time.
It's another half-century for Ding, who has very little to do with the cue ball other than gently stun the white into position around the pink and blue. The frame looks a formality, as does a third century in three frames.
Ronnie tries a shot to nothing at the start of the eighth, but his intended red catches another and sits up over the bottom left for Ding, who plugs it to land on the blue to right middle. He's away again here - neither player looks like missing right now - and a positive shot off a later blue takes him to 19 and splits the pack everywhere. The black is out of commission for now but pink and blue are on.
O'Sullivan advances his break to 70, sailing past the winning post in this frame as he does so. This was a big frame to win and he's done it in under ten minutes with one visit. A blue to right middle secures the ton; he can't slide in the last red down the rail and into the bottom left, but he's reduced his deficit to just one frame again.
Another near-perfect split on the remaining cluster of reds has left this frame at Ronnie's mercy, and he quickly racks up his half-century. This one is done.
Both players miss ambitious reds at the start of the seventh, before O'Sullivan thin cuts a red into the right middle to just about land on the blue. A few shots later he splits the pack off one cushion after potting the brown, and oh my they've spread invitingly here. The black is soon relocated to its own spot and there should be a sizeable break incoming here.
It's a century for Ding, who takes the last two reds on the table left-handed rather than waste time reaching for the rest. He applies the mop to every ball on the table for a superb 129 and the sixth frame.
A pink takes Ding to 69, with only 67 left on the table. There's plenty left here for him too, and he'll restore his two-frame lead shortly.
Ding misses a long pot - that's 0/4 for him so far - but he gets in next when Ronnie plays a containing safety, and really needs to find something telling. And he does, getting himself around the black spot and methodically eliminating balls. This would be a colossal frame for him to win.
Ding could do with something here, because this looks ominous.
This has been a gorgeously constructed break from TMNTPETPUAC, but then potting frame ball he sees the red go into the corner and the white keep going into the middle. Ding needs one snooker, but his first shot leaves a red and it goes down. He'll be fearing the worst.
Have a look! Ronnie rams in a red ramrod straight, and with ramrod power too. I'm beginning to think he might be quite good at the ole snookerball. And a few balls later he spanks a blue into the yellow pocket, almost the full diag of the table; you can see the scorch marks on the baize.
A run of 103 sets this up superbly. Join me again after the mid-session, so in about 15 minutes. It'll be worth it, I promise.
There's something so relaxing yet at the same time so exciting about watching Ronnie in the balls.The way he disappears them with apparently minimal effort, the cue-ball control, the thought processes. He's in the match.
Another chance slips away as Ronnie misses a red into the middle, but this time Ding can't punish him, missing a red to the yellow pocket.He doesn't leave anything, but if it goes down he's not now sat in his seat watching Ronnie effortlessly accumulate.
Excellent work from Ding, a run of 73 putting him three ahead. It's 10 years since Ronnie went out in the first round of this competition, but he needs to work fast to avoid that this term.
Ronnie came from behind to beat Ding at the Northern Ireland Open, but he'll have been concerned watching Ding get in first again in frame three. Except this time Ding errs, splattering the pack in the process of missing a red. Ronnie can't take advantage though, a poor positional shot off the black putting him under pressure ... and not only does he miss an opener into the middle his safety kisses the green and leaves one for Ding. Ronnie looks like someone who's not played for a bit, and who needs table-time badly.
A run of 75 is enough for Ding, and this time when he misses, Ronnie remains arsebound. This is warming up.
A nondescript safety from Ronnie leaves the prospect of a cross-double for Ding, and he sinks it very nicely indeed. He's looking in serious nick here, and attacking the table with proper intensity. This is going to be another frame-winner
There's a break while a World Snooker Tour official sews Ronnie's sponsorship back on - really - then good safety play from Ronnie forces Ding to leave one over the pocket ... but Ronnie clips a ball on the way down to it, only to still make the pot off the cushion. He can't see the brown down next though, also missing it off his next red.
Great start for Ding, who sashayed through the key break with no little alacrity.
Ding gets to 83, and when he misses Ronnie returns to get warm.
And it's now a frame-winning lead. Ding has resolved those difficult balls superbly, opting to play in behind them rather than disturb them.
Ding soon runs out of position - in commentary, Uncle Joe wonders if he's getting used to the table - but he finds a decent safety. Then Ronnie plays a dead weight safety - it's not clear why - and leaves Ding a start to the middle that he glides in beautifully. There are four reds in each other's way close to the side cushion, so there's work to do, but this is already a handy lead.
Ding gets away with a poor break-off, catching the blue ... but is soon punished nevertheless. Ronnie finds an opener, then with no colour on, develops the aforementioned blue, using it to block the route to the reds. Ding goes in-off, but escapes further sanction, and plays a decent safety that forces Ronnie to take on a pot, dead weight. He misses, and that puts Ding in the balls - where he's better than almost every other player.
And off we go.
I'm not sure he has the game to mither an in-form Ronnie - he's not quite as good in the balls and a lot less good at the other stuff - but if he starts well, he's got a chance.
That he's trying not to think about snooker, and is focused on his running. Of course he is.
That he's been putting in six hours a day, working harder than he ever has. That is problematic for the rest.
Have won this competition. Ronnie has won it seven times!
And welcome to yet another beautiful day in one of the greatest tournaments in all of sport. This afternoon, we've only got Ronnie O'Sullivan against Ding Junhui, and this evening it's John Higgins against Mark Allen. Ooh yeah!
Ronnie O'Sullivan says he was "absolutely gone" when he suffered a shock defeat at the last Triple Crown event, the UK Championship, and plans not to repeat the mistake.
The six-times defending world champion suffered a 6-5 defeat to world number 62 Alexander Ursenbacher in the last 64 of the UK Championship last month despite watching his Swiss opponents contribute a highest break of only 67 over 11 frames. O'Sullivan – who begins his bid for an eighth Masters title against 2011 winner Ding Junhui in the first round on Wednesday – has revealed running contributed to his shock downfall.
"That week I managed to get 55 miles in," said O'Sullivan in an exclusive interview with Eurosport. "I only managed 40 even when I was running brilliantly 10 years ago. I've managed to build my volume up. I don't run as fast, but I go for a bit longer. I ended up doing two 11 milers in one week which cranked the miles up, but towards the end of it I was absolutely shattered.
"I was gone at the UK, absolutely gone. I was like 'oh dear, what have I done'. I don't make excuses because the other guy played well, but physically I'd overdone it. If you speak to an athlete that's overtrained, it's like a weird sort of tiredness."
Sunday January 10
- Kyren Wilson 6-2 Gary Wilson (1pm)
- Joe Perry 2-6 David Gilbert (7pm)
Monday January 11
- Stuart Bingham 6-4 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (1pm)
- Shaun Murphy 6-4 Mark Williams (7pm)
Tuesday January 12
- Neil Robertson 5-6 Yan Bingtao (1pm)
- Mark Selby 3-6 Stephen Maguire (7pm)
Wednesday January 13
- Ronnie O'Sullivan v Ding Junhui (1pm)
- John Higgins v Mark Allen (7pm)
Thursday January 14
- Gilbert v Wilson (1pm)
- Bingham v Murphy (7pm)
Friday January 15
- Higgins / Allen v O'Sullivan v Ding (1pm)
- Maguire v Yan (7pm)
Saturday January 16
- TBC v TBC (1pm)
- TBC v TBC (7pm)
Sunday January 17
- TBC v TBC (1pm, 7pm)
You can watch every moment of the Masters live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and eurosport.co.uk.
The Masters will also be broadcast on Eurosport 1 across the week.
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