Ronnie O'Sullivan's hopes of appearing at this year's world championship at the Crucible were all but gone at one point yesterday in Berlin – but a comeback brilliant even by the standards of the 36-year-old saw him keep the door ajar for a little longer at least.
O'Sullivan (below), recovered from 4-0 down at the German Masters to win 5-4 against Widnes's Andrew Higginson, one of those trying to snatch his top-16 place that brings with it automatic qualification to the annual Sheffield showpiece.
It was a much-needed if delayed take-off for O'Sullivan, now into the last 16, who himself had arrived in the city in a private plane with artist and friend Damien Hirst, contrasting with his opponent's Easyjet flight from Liverpool.
The world No16, right on the cut-off point, still has much to do both this week at the Tempodrom and then in Newport at the Welsh Open later this month to ensure he does not have to qualify for the world championship.
However any suggestion that he has thrown in the towel on the sport were dispelled yesterday, at no time more than when 63-0 down with Higginson still 4-1 ahead, O'Sullivan produced a brave clearance of 67 to claw back the deficit.
O'Sullivan said: "Andrew played very well for four frames, and I did the same after that. I am very pleased to be through." He then refused to answer more questions, blaming World Snooker for fining him for comments made, and the media for twisting his words.