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Ronnie O'Sullivan was back to his best on Saturday morning.
Ronnie O'Sullivan 13-11 Joe Perry
Perry had shown signs of weakness throughout early stages of Saturday’s morning session, yet still came within a whisker of causing a huge upset.
The first four frames of the day were shared and in a sign of his later play, O'Sullivan's break of 82 in the third frame included some exquisite work.
A comprehensive start by O'Sullivan was followed up by an erratic few minutes.
Perry missed an easy pink in the second frame but the Romford-based cue-master was unable to take advantage at that point, which said much about his own state of mind.
A double-hit from O’Sullivan on the brown gave Perry another lifeline, the foul bringing him to within nine. Snookers were exchanged before yet another mistake by the Rocket let Perry in to take the frame and surge two ahead again.
A lucky long red on his first visit to the table after Perry’s break, suggested that O’Sullivan’s luck might be about to change.
Some urgency to his potting and a swagger not seen for a while saw him go on to win the frame with a wonderful break of 82.
He looked on course to make things level at the mid session break, but a wild stab at an easy red allowed Perry another visit to the table which was hardly deserved. He made no mistake.
Two frames from defeat, O’Sullivan had to up the ante. And my word did he do so, as we saw the potting genius of old come to the fore. Confidence restored, a 53 break for a 101-0 frame win took him back to within a frame of his opponent.
The pressure took it’s toll on Perry. Building a decent cushion, he looked odds-on to get to within one frame of a sensational victory, but a simple missed black let O’Sullivan back in to take it 68-42 with a decent break of 52.
A quite unbelievable 124 took O’Sullivan into the lead for the first time and a careless safety from Perry whilst at 0-0 in the final frame allowed O’Sullivan to show his genius again.
He didn’t look back with a masterful showing of pressure-potting. BBC Sport’s John Virgo called it during live commentary:
Back-to-back centuries under pressure, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
This is the sort of snooker that only geniuses can play. Just look at that.
Joe Perry, you had your chances but you were beaten by the better man today. Look how much it means to him. Well played Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Perry only had himself to blame, but O’Sullivan’s 113 was worthy of taking him through to the quarter-finals.
Alan McManus 10-5 Ken Doherty
The Scot took full control of proceedings taking the first six frames available in the morning session.
McManus’ confident visits to the table were in stark contrast to Doherty’s safety-first approach, even though it was the latter who took the initiative in the early part of the first frame.
Letting McManus in at the midway point of the point was fatal for Doherty’s chances and the Scot took the frame in some style.
It was the same story in the next frame as McManus tightened the screw but Doherty played his part in a cat-and-mouse third frame of the morning.
Some banter with the crowd saw the Irishman take his eye off the ball and miss countless some simple pots.
McManus seemed unable to settle too and more awkward shots from both players meant a see-saw frame that was entertaining for the everyday punter, but not the purist.
A hit-and-hope yellow from Doherty let in McManus who made no mistake to take another for a 7-3 advantage and further error-strewn play saw the Scot take the next one too.
It was turning into a bit of a procession, and one that showed no signs of abating.
The next fell the same way and even when Doherty seemed to take a grip on a frame as he did with a 25 break in the sixth frame of the session, more profligacy at the table continued to give the Scot ample time at the table.
McManus could even afford a missed black from the spot, Doherty unable to pot the easy red to take advantage. A 54 break saw McManus take a sixth frame in a row with Doherty completely on the ropes and devoid of any confidence whatsoever.
In the final frame of the session, McManus had already moved 35 ahead before the Irishman was able to visit the table.
However, his best frame of the morning and a 93 break stopped the rot. With that confidence returned and Doherty was on for a maximum until an unlucky cannon curtailed his ambitions. A well-crafted 88 saw him end the session on a high.