SNOOKER: O'Sullivan stages another recovery

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Ronnie O'Sullivan yesterday staged a second remarkable recovery in three days to move into the semi-finals of the British Open at Plymouth.

The title-holder seemed to be heading out of the competition when he trailed Stoke's Dave Harold 46-26 in the deciding frame of their quarter- final. But after Harold tried to snooker him with a safety shot, O'Sullivan replied by potting a difficult yellow and clearing the rest of the colours to secure a 5-4 victory.

O'Sullivan, who admitted he should have lost to the former world champion, Dennis Taylor, in the second round on Wednesday but came back from 4-3 and 57-0 down, said: "I didn't really think I was going to lose at any stage today. I had to make a couple of tough shots but that's part and parcel of the game. They've made it hard for me and I knew I had to go for that yellow. I was pleased to finish with a clearance under pressure."

O'Sullivan, who was 18 when he became the youngest British Open champion 12 months ago, had breaks of 142 and 82 as he fought back after losing the first two frames.

Harold, who reached the Grand Prix final at Derby this season, did not feel hard done by. "You cannot complain when you lose to a brilliant clearance like that," he said. "I was pleased that I did not play well yet took him to a decider. The trouble with playing Ronnie is that you never know when you have got him beat. You think you have played a good safety shot but if he can see a pot he goes for it and most of them go in."

The pair meet again in the first round of the World Championship at Sheffield Crucible next Saturday.

O'Sullivan will meet James Wattana today in a repeat of last year's final, which the Essex player won 9-4. But Wattana, the world No 3, was victorious in their last encounter, beating O'Sullivan 9-6 in the Thailand Open final in his homeland last month.

Wattana became the first semi-finalist when he thrashed Mick Price, from Nuneaton, 5-1.