Snooker: O'Sullivan's handiness wins through

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RONNIE O'SULLIVAN played both left and right-handed yesterday at the China Open on his way to a 5-2 victory over Pakistan's Shokat Ali.

O'Sullivan, who is now in the quarter-finals of the year's closing world ranking event, delighted the crowd as he swapped hands at will as he took the last four frames to secure the win.

Early in the match Shokat, winner of gold at last year's Asian Games, took advantage of O'Sullivan's many mistakes to build a 2-1 lead and an upset looked possible. "I couldn't seem to find any form and I was missing them all over the place," said O'Sullivan, who is attempting to capture his first title since the Regal Scottish Masters 14 months ago.

"I was so bad I said to myself that if I was going to lose I was at least going to enjoy myself out there and I enjoy playing left-handed."

There was no discernible improvement as O'Sullivan scrambled home in a scrappy fourth frame on the blue, but after the interval he produced some high scoring. In only 27 minutes he went from 2-2 to 5-2 as he produced breaks of 47, 45 twice and 120.

The latter effort was his 20th century in competition this season and places him alongside Stephen Hendry at the top of that list. O'Sullivan now plays Paul Sweeny, the world No 110.