Mark Allen Sets Up Ronnie O’Sullivan Clash At Crucible

The 36-year-old beat Scott Donaldson 10-6 at the Crucible Theatre to reach the second round
11:56, 19 Apr 2022

Mark Allen is into the last 16 of the Betfred World Championship on Easter Monday evening to set up a mouth-watering second-round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan – starting on Friday. 

The 36-year-old from Antrim beat Scotland’s Scott Donaldson 10-6 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to reach the second round. 

Allen may be a six-time ranking event winner and former Masters champion, but his recent record at the blue-riband event is pretty desperate. 

The world No15 has got to the quarter-finals just once in the last 10 years. But the only time he did get to the semi-finals he beat the Rocket at the same stage early in the tournament. 

World No1 O’Sullivan, 46, is a six-time winner looking to equal the record seven world titles achieved by Stephen Hendry. 

Allen’s only title of the campaign to date came in his home Northern Ireland Open in Belfast back in October – the other event where the pressure and expectation is at its greatest for him. 

Allen, who made breaks of 80, 61, 107, 109, 57, 54 and 52, led 5-4 after the morning session. He then stretched that to 7-4, and though Donaldson got back to 7-6 that was as close as he got. 

Allen said: “Of course having got through I’ll look forward to the occasion of playing Ronnie at the Crucible. That sort of match is why we all play this game. 

“I’ll have to play very well but there are a number of players in the second round you could say that about. Ronnie has been coming here 30 years. He has won it six times, but that means he has lost 24 times and I want to be one of those.

“I made a good clearance right back in frame four and that was huge, even in a long match as it set me on the way. I got out of jail a bit earlier in the match. 

“I was struggling a bit with the table against Scott, it wasn’t the best and it seemed to get worse as the day went on. There were a few silly mistakes in the balls, and at one point I was struggling to hang on to his coat-tails. 

“I stretched a bit too much for one at 7-4 up, I am not the slimmest person in the world! But I have been struggling in recent weeks and so I came here determined to battle and scrap for everything. 

“Scott is not the prettiest on the eye but he does everything well and very effectively – he pots awkward balls and trusts his technique and is good under pressure. 

“There are no easy games at the Crucible, even in the first round – although the way Shaun Murphy played against Stephen Maguire the other night, that would have been an easy one – that was awful! No, but occasionally someone won’t play well, but generally you’ll need to play good stuff. 

“I came here with a slightly different mindset, ready to get to 10 even if it was ugly, and that helped trying not to be perfect and took some pressure off.” 

In the same way that it is something of a mystery that serial tour winner Neil Robertson has not won a second world title since lifting the trophy, Allen’s own results if not always performances at the Crucible smack of underachievement. 

For such a determined and talented competitor, just one trip to the last eight in a decade fails to represent his reputation in the sport, and what he has achieved and how deep he often goes in other tournaments. 

There have been some real near-misses and agonising defeats – with losses to John Higgins, Barry Hawkins, Kyren Wilson and Graeme Dott especially painful.  

But Allen has beaten everyone in his 17 years on the tour, and the Masters triumph was especially sweet as some pundits had questioned his ability to win a Triple Crown event due to a safety game that was seen as weaker than some of his rivals at that time. It is an area that the Antrim pro has worked very hard on in recent years. 

And maybe his success at his home tournament in Belfast will be some kind of good omen, finally delivering the trophy to his adoring home fans after years of struggling to escape the scrum and frenzy surrounding his participation at the Waterfront.

Mark Allen vs Ronnie O'Sullivan Betfred Match Odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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