/ Snooker

O'Sullivan battles back as Higgins whitewashed

Updated: Thursday, 02 Feb 2012 23:05

Ronnie O'Sullivan's automatic place in April's World Championships could be in doubt as the former world number one is currently 16th in the rankings
Ronnie O'Sullivan's automatic place in April's World Championships could be in doubt as the former world number one is currently 16th in the rankings

Ronnie O'Sullivan battled back from 4-0 down for a vital win over Andrew Higginson in the German Masters first round at the Berlin Tempodrom.

But John Higgins could not produce a comeback to match that as Stephen Maguire inflicted the world champion's first whitewash in 16 years in their all-Scottish second round clash.

O'Sullivan has fallen down the rankings to number 16 in the world and went into the tournament needing to pick up points to ensure he retains his automatic place in April's World Championship.

Higginson led 2-0 after breaks of 67 and 80, the latter seeing him miss the 11th red of a 147 attempt. He added the third frame and it was 4-0 at the interval after Higginson prevailed in a safety battle on the final pink.

O'Sullivan finally got on the board with an 86 in the first frame back - though not before leaving Higginson a chance which he passed up by missing a tricky black.

Higginson racked up 54 in the next before a kick and two unlucky positional shots ended the break at 63, one pot away from victory. To make matters worse, he carelessly left a long red for his opponent and the three-time world champion cleared superbly to come back to 4-2.

A 60 break cut the deficit to one and he then levelled before taking a 56-0 lead in the decider, breaking down when he went for a difficult red in search of a maximum. Higginson made only 20 before missing a difficult mid-length red and O'Sullivan got over the line for a vital win.

Higgins' highest break was just 33 as he was beaten 5-0 for the first time since Karl Burrows routed him in the 1996 Asian Classic

Maguire took a tense opener and went 3-0 up with breaks of 74 and 89 before Higgins failed to get the snookers required in the next, going into the break 4-0 down.

Maguire was in first with 52 after the resumption and potted two impressive middle-pocket reds before eventually getting over the line.

He will face a quarter-final against Judd Trump, who beat Mark Allen 5-2 in a rematch of the UK Championship final.

Both men had played earlier in the day, Trump beating Pickering's Paul Davison 5-1 with breaks of 50, 75, 60 and 81 while Allen had to battle back from 4-1 down and from needing snookers in the deciding frame to beat Tom Ford 5-4.

Trump led 2-0 in tonight's match and, though Allen halved the deficit, the Bristolian surged 3-1 ahead despite missing out on a century.

He went 4-1 up before Allen responded again but Trump came from 47-26 down to take frame seven and the match.

Shaun Murphy also reached the quarter-finals with a 5-2 win over Ricky Walden.

Murphy came from 43-5 down to take the opener and added a 128 to move 2-0 up. It was 4-0 at the interval after Walden's comeback in frame four came up short.

Walden took the first frame back in quick time and then made it 4-2, but a seemingly never-ending seventh frame went Murphy's way and he progressed to face Mark Selby or Graeme Dott.

World number one Selby inflicted a 5-0 whitewash on China's Liu Song while Dott also progressed without dropping a frame, at the expense of James Wattana.

Stephen Lee saw off Chinese rookie Yu Delu, another player in his second match today.

Yu caused a major upset by knocking out fellow countryman Ding Junhui this morning, surging into a 3-0 lead before holding his nerve to clinch a 5-3 victory.

World number nine Ding has had a disappointing season to date and was again far from his best in Berlin where breaks of 68 and 56 from Yu carried the underdog, 73rd in the rankings, to his surprising success.

But he had no answer against Lee, who came back from losing the opener to lead 3-1 at the mid-session point and went on to wrap up victory.

O'Sullivan's second-round match will pit him against Joe Perry, who also went the distance as he beat Ali Carter 5-4.

Carter came from 2-0 and 3-1 down to level and moved ahead for the first time at 4-3 after a 129, the highest break of the tournament so far. But Perry levelled and then edged a scrappy last frame to progress.

Matthew Stevens beat Craig Steadman 5-1 to set up a clash with Masters winner Neil Robertson, who earlier beat Marcus Campbell 5-2.