Snooker: Allen expects to build on surprise O'Sullivan victory

Northern Ireland's rising star sets his sights on Ryan Day in the quarter-finals
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The Independent Online

Mark Allen is confident there will be no hangover from his surprise Crucible victory over Ronnie O'Sullivan in the World Championships on Saturday. The 23-year-old from Antrim, Northern Ireland, promised to treat family and friends to an expensive dinner after the stunning win against the defending champion. But he will now focus on his quarter-final against Ryan Day, a last-eight pairing that few expected to see.

Allen stressed his career-best victory will not result in a major comedown. "I don't think I'll let that happen," he said. "Everyone who's left in the tournament is capable of winning it."

He includes Day in that assessment, despite thrashing the Welshman earlier in the season, but believes he can continue to make progress through the draw at the expense of the man from Bridgend. "He's a great player, probably one of the form players of the past few years," Allen said. "I played him in the Masters in January and beat him 6-1 and played well, but he has also beaten me 5-1 in another tournament where he played well.

"I'm pretty confident that if I can play well then I can win, but that's taking nothing away from Ryan. I'm sure it will be a very tough match."

Allen came to Sheffield knowing his place in the top 16 was on the line, but that is now secure, and judging by his performance against O'Sullivan the top eight will beckon before long. The left-hander is bidding to become Northern Ireland's third Crucible champion, after Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor. His attitude is refreshing. Allen is a bubbly character who clearly fears no-one. That approach saw him through his tussle with O'Sullivan, and could see him go all the way to the final this year.

Allen knew O'Sullivan was vulnerable, and said: "He's far and away the best player in the world but I don't mind who I play."

He recognises eye-catching one-off results will not suffice, and his objective is to be a regular winner. "I know what I'm capable of," Allen said. "If I can perform the way I know I'm capable of, then I can beat these sort of players on a regular basis. Up to now I've been inconsistent. I've had wins against good players here and there, but it's up to me to improve on that consistency." The quarter-final featuring Allen and Day starts tomorrow morning.

O'Sullivan saw his title slip away, then claimed he had always expected an early exit. "I didn't feel good all tournament," he said. "It's not nice to play like that but you just have to get on with it. I'm playing badly in practice and in tournaments. It wasn't that match that was the problem. He played brilliantly. If he plays like that he's got a great chance of winning."