O’Sullivan Leads, Allen Close to Win in World Championship Matches
In the ongoing Cazoo World Championship, Ronnie O’Sullivan took a commanding 6-2 lead against Hossein Vafaei in their last-16 clash during the first session. Meanwhile, on the other table, Mark Allen established a 12-4 advantage over Stuart Bingham, moving closer to victory.
The rivalry between Vafaei and O’Sullivan intensified after Vafaei’s win over Ding Junhui in the first round, as evident from Vafaei smashing the pack of reds in the second frame, which O’Sullivan had done in a previous meeting at the 2021 German Masters qualifiers. However, Vafaei remained quiet on the table as O’Sullivan took a four-frame lead.
The two players will resume their match on Saturday for eight more frames, and if O’Sullivan wins seven of those, he will secure his place in the quarter-finals at the Crucible for the 21st time. Otherwise, the contest will conclude on Sunday from 10 am.
O’Sullivan started the match with a break of 78, then capitalised on Vafaei’s unorthodox break-off in the second to make another 78 for a 2-0 lead. Vafaei managed a break of 64 in the third frame, eventually winning it with an excellent long pot on the final pink. However, O’Sullivan dominated the next three frames with runs of 69, 51, and 102. The last of those was a landmark break as he became the first player to score 200 centuries at the Crucible. In the seventh frame, a safety battle on the colours ensued, and O’Sullivan laid a snooker on the yellow, taking advantage of the chance that followed for a 6-1 lead.
In the last frame of the session, O’Sullivan led 44-0 when he missed the pink to a top corner, and Vafaei capitalised on the mistake with a run of 58, reducing the deficit.
In the other match, Northern Ireland’s Allen won seven consecutive frames, coming close to finishing his second-round match early. However, Bingham won the last frame of the day to give himself a chance. Bingham must win the remaining nine frames when they resume on Saturday at 10 am.
Allen, the player of the season so far, having won three ranking titles, is eyeing a place in the quarter-finals for the first time since 2018. If he achieves that goal, his next opponent will be Neil Robertson or Jak Jones.
Allen led 5-3 overnight, then made it 7-3 with breaks of 53 and 75. Bingham had a chance to clear from 67-0 down in frame 11, but ran out of position on the final black and over-cut a tough pot to a top corner. Allen took advantage and slotted in the black for an 8-3 lead, then won the next four frames with top runs of 65, 97, and 51 to lead 12-3.
Although he had a chance to wrap up the tie in the last of the session, Allen made only 25, and Bingham responded with a break of 103 to stay alive.