Snooker: Davis hits back with interest

Steve Davis, who dominated the 1980s as Ronnie O'Sullivan threatens to dominate this decade, makes far more unforced errors at the age of 47 than in his heyday, but with undiminished relish for battle he turned arrears of 8-2 into a 13-10 win over Michael Holt, the world No 29, to reach his first quarter-final here for nine years.

Steve Davis, who dominated the 1980s as Ronnie O'Sullivan threatens to dominate this decade, makes far more unforced errors at the age of 47 than in his heyday, but with undiminished relish for battle he turned arrears of 8-2 into a 13-10 win over Michael Holt, the world No 29, to reach his first Embassy World Championship quarter-final here for nine years.

"At 8-2 I missed the first chance in the next frame," Davis said. "My wheels had fallen off. Then he missed and gave me another chance ­ a lot harder."

"I was shocking today," said Holt after Davis accumulated six frames out of seven.

Ronnie O'Sullivan declared himself "reasonably happy" with the 13-7 win over Allister Carter which put him through to the quarter-finals, but reiterated his dissatisfaction with the way he has played this season, even though he has won four of the seven tournaments in which he has competed.

Geniuses, a temperamental lot on the whole, see things differently. Their skills have come to them quickly and easily. They take them for granted and are easily disappointed with their performances.

"The way I've played this year I've not enjoyed it. I won't be able to take much more of it. It's physically impossible," the world No 1 said.

That O'Sullivan has manic-depressive tendencies is well known. He was shattered when his father was sentenced to life imprisonment 13 years ago, and the emotional pain of this enforced separation remains a constant niggling ache. His reference yesterday to his eight-year-old daughter by a former girlfriend emphasises another long-running emotional problem: "I wasn't there for her and I regret that."

O'Sullivan's best is simply stunning, but his second best is altogether better than it used to be because of an acquired professionalism which has been assisted by Ray Reardon, six times world champion in the 1970s, who became his mentor here last year.

Carter, the world No 19, has several notable scalps to his credit, including Stephen Hendry (three times), Mark Williams, Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon, but at only 9-7 adrift going into yesterday's final session he failed to capitalise on three good chances in the opening frame, in which O'Sullivan was also fallible.

Once O'Sullivan had settled to a far-from-straightforward winning 45, it was easy to agree with his unsentimental verdict on his opponent: "I never felt under pressure, more frustrated with my own game. Maybe if he'd played better, it would have sparked me into trying a bit harder."

From 10-7, O'Sullivan opened with 54 in keeping Carter scoreless in the next frame before his superbly designed 67, unassisted by pink or black, and a virtuoso finish of 125 underlined why he is odds-on for the title.

Alan McManus became a quarter-finalist for the first time since he reached his second semi-final in 1993 by defeating Ken Doherty, the 1997 champion 13-11, clinching the match with a break of 84 after Doherty had missed a black from its spot.

Mathew Stevens, once runner-up and three times a semi-finalist here in the last five years, earned a 5-3 overnight lead over Jimmy White; John Higgins, the 1998 champion led Shaun Murphy 3-0 before the 22-year-old qualifier highlighted his impressive recovery to 4-4 at the close with a total clearance of 129.

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