Masters 2011: Allen Ousts O’Sullivan

Four-time Masters champion Ronnie O’Sullivan became the latest big name to crash out of the 2011 tournament this afternoon following a 6-4 defeat to Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen…

Although I had fancied O’Sullivan to perform well today at Wembley, it was evident from a very early stage that for whatever reason he was not at the top of his game and Mark Allen took advantage to lead 3-1 at the mid-session interval. In particular three missed blacks from the crowd favourite were to prove costly and ultimately the difference between the two early on.

On their resumption, Mark continued to look the likely winner of the match as he moved 62-0 up in frame five before a missed red was to cost him dear as Ronnie managed to clear and keep himself right in the match at 3-2.

To his credit, Mark restored his two frame advantage in the next but by this stage appeared to be getting anxious and allowed O’Sullivan back into the match with some uncharacteristic misses. The former world number one was still by no means at his best but from nowhere the long pots started to find the back of the pocket and as he levelled at 4-4 to the delight of the Wembley crowd, it had the feeling of another victory for him from behind, like those against Joe Perry and Neil Robertson in recent years.

With the pressure on him however, Mark found an answer with what under the circumstances was a terrific break of 87 to restore his lead and put him just one away from the match. Ronnie continued to have his chances but this was to be one deficit that he could not recover and Mark eventually sealed the win in frame ten.

Having suffered first round exits both here and in Telford, questions will no doubt be asked about Ronnie O’Sullivan and just how much he wants to win at the moment. In particular there was one frame today where having needed one snooker, O’Sullivan conceded without coming back to the table, something that noticeably irked Steve Davis up in the studio.

It is all to easy however to simply state that because he lost he cannot have been trying. Yes his body language was not outwardly the most positive but then to me at least it rarely is during the Premier League and he has no trouble winning there! His demeanour post-match was refreshingly positive today too, very gracious and full of praise for his opponent. He will be back.

Take nothing away though from Mark Allen who despite his mid-match wobble, generally played well and deserves his place in the quarter-finals. He will certainly have to play better against either Neil Robertson or Stephen Hendry if he is to win the event but with just Hendry remaining in the event who is a former champion, there looks like being a new winner of the tournament come Sunday and why should it not be Mark? Long way to go however.

In the day’s second match Marco Fu currently leads a frustrated Stephen Maguire 4-1 having twice come close to setting a new high break for this week’s tournament. Will it be six from six for the lower ranked players so far this week?