Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan is out of the Northern Ireland Open after a shock defeat to David Grace in Belfast, who is delighted that he has proved he can pick up wins on the biggest stages.
Things were looking bleak for the world number 49 when the Rocket took a 2-0 lead in a race to four frames, but the Yorkshireman won the next three with breaks of 57, 94 and 64.
The world champion forced a decider, after Grace spurned a chance of victory in the sixth, but the underdog did what was necessary in the last to score one of the biggest wins of his career and progress to the last 32.
‘Got over the line in the end, made hard work of it,’ Grace told Eurosport. ‘You don’t normally get a second chance, I missed the first chance to win 4-2, that’s normally when the snooker gods don’t forgive you, but luckily they were on my side today.
‘It was going really bad at 2-0 and I’m proud that I managed to find the cue ball control to make a couple of breaks in the middle of the match and get myself a foothold.
‘When you play the legends they play better when they go in front. They don’t normally give you a foothold in the match, so it was nice to get a chance in the match and give myself a chance.’
Grace reached the semi-finals in the Northern Ireland Open two years ago and has been to the final four at the UK Championship in the past, so has proved himself against the best, but is pleased he could secure a huge win over the world number one on the TV table.
‘Trying to prove that you can do it on the biggest stage, that’s what everyone’s trying to do when you’re down the rankings,’ he said. ‘When you get a chance like that, you have to take it.’
O’Sullivan made a 62 in the opening frame and looked in complete control after winning the second, but Grace was very impressive to win three on the spin.
The world champion was playing ultra-aggressive snooker in the final two frames, taking a lot of difficult pots on, but it was not coming off for him and Grace capitalised.
Grace now moves on to take on Tian Pengfei in the last 32 as the draw continues to open up thanks to upsets early on.
Judd Trump was beaten on Tuesday night by Aaron Hill, while Stuart Bingham was thrashed 4-0 by David Lilley and Zhao Xintong fell in the first round to Lyu Haotian.
Big beasts including Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, John Higgins, defending champion Mark Allen and Mark Williams remain in contention for the trophy in Belfast.
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