Snooker: O'Sullivan poised to profit from slips

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The Independent Online

Some untimely misses from Mark Selby handed Ronnie O'Sullivan the momentum in their quarter-final tie in the UK Championship here yesterday.

Selby played his way back from the brink of defeat and into a winning position in the fifth frame, only to miss a simple blue and go 4-1 down, and then surrendered control of the eighth frame with a miss on the final brown, leaving him trailing 6-2 at the interval.

O'Sullivan, appearing calm at the table, had taken routine wins in the opening two frames before Selby finally got rolling to take the third 108-1. But O'Sullivan hit a break of 104 to win the fourth without reply.

The match then turned in the fifth frame when Selby forced a pair of errors from O'Sullivan to get back into the frame, with O'Sullivan missing a brown and handing Selby a free shot, with which he sank the black. But with the frame there for the taking, he missed a routine blue on the next shot and O'Sullivan cleaned up.

Selby recovered to take the sixth, but O'Sullivan rattled in a break of 94 to take the seventh. Needing a win to stay in touch, Selby watched O'Sullivan make a break of 43 in the final frame of the session, but an error on a red handed him his chance and he looked confident of taking it. However, he misplayed the brown and O'Sullivan potted the final three colours.

John Higgins also held a 6-2 lead over Liang Wenbo in yesterday's other quarter-final, but appeared to be in far more dominant form. He raced into a 5-0 lead, with breaks of 90 and 110 in the opening three frames. He had been on course for a 147 until being forced to settle for a blue when on 104 in the third. Liang took two of the final three frames as he finally found some rhythm, but the Chinese player faced a long road to get back into the match.

The winners of the two quarter-finals will play each other in the semis tomorrow with Stephen Maguire and Ding Junhui meeting in the first semi today.