Mark Allen survived a major scare before beating former partner Reanne Evans 3-2 in the British Open last night.
But the Northern Irishman, who was facing defeat at 60-22 down in the fourth frame before battling back, later described the experience as “horrible” and admitted he was fortunate to prevail.
The irony surrounding the clash had prompted widespread intrigue with the pair currently involved in a bitter legal battle regarding maintenance payments for their daughter, with fellow professional Shaun Murphy saying yesterday he felt even non-snooker fans would be tuning in to view the “car crash.”
And in front of a raucous crowd at the Morningside Arena in Leicester – most of who were behind Evans – tensions were heightened before a ball was even potted after the 12-time women’s world champion snubbed Allen’s offer of a pre-match handshake.
But after his comeback win, the 35-year-old remained dignified despite admitting he would not want to face Evans again.
“She played much better than me but I made a good break to win it. She potted some unbelievable individual balls. She was very unfortunate not to go on and win 3-1.
“It was horrible. It’s not something I want to really go through too often, but we had to try and remain as professional as possible and I think I did that very well.”
When asked about the pre-match snub, Allen replied “I’d rather not answer that one.”
Evans however, insisted she was simply focussing on the task in hand.
“I was told at the start of the match there were no handshakes or anything, and just in my head I was visualising the start of the match so I just went straight to the table.”
And for all the perceived animosity, there were respectful moments during the contest with Evans, 35, apologising for a fluke pot and Allen tapping the table to acknowledge a break from his opponent.
But it was Evans left ruing what might have been after taking a 2-1 lead, and with victory in sight in the fourth frame, she rattled a red in the jaws of the pocket before Allen capitalised with a nerveless 47 clearance.
He followed that up with a 68 clearance in the decider to seal a place in round two.
“I’m absolutely gutted but proud of myself,” admitted Evans, who in 2020 received an MBE for her services to women’s snooker.
“No-one wanted that match did they? But you have to respect that top players do what they do and it’s sport.”
The contest rounded off a dramatic opening day of the tournament, which had earlier seen John Higgins notch a 12th maximum 147 break of his career, and world no 1 Judd Trump and fan favourite Jimmy White both win through.
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