When a snooker legend like Stephen Hendry says it was the “most intense match I have ever seen” you know the Battle of the Exes was no ordinary sporting clash.
Record 12-time women’s world champion Reanne Evans will escape formal disciplinary action for snubbing the pre-match greeting offered by Mark Allen this week.
Having missed match ball the 35-year-old from Dudley was then edged out 3-2 by former partner Allen at the British Open.
Allen insisted it had been “horrible…and I’d rather have played Judd Trump”. He at least avoided that fate in the second-round draw.
A contest billed as the ultimate grudge clash took place against a tense backdrop of ongoing legal proceedings concerning maintenance for the pair’s teenage daughter.
And there was also an incident at this year’s World Championship where Allen managed to get BBC pundit Evans, also 35, removed from the room with the studio adjacent to his practice table.
Northern Ireland’s Allen, a former Masters winner and ranked No10 in the world, tentatively offered a fist-bump before a ball was potted.
But Dudley’s Evans provoked gasps from the crowd and an intake of breath from the TV audience as she turned her back on the gesture and settled to break off.
Though custom and practice there is no strict obligation to shake hands, and that tradition has taken varied forms during Covid.
Players have been warned in the past – but the combination of the lack of any aggressive verbal exchange and an understanding of the acrimony involved means no action will be taken.
In another boost for Evans, who has just earned a two-year main tour card for her world No1 women’s ranking, she has been backed to kick on from a best-ever display on TV.
Previous rare opportunities in the spotlight had seen the talisman for the women’s game fail to do herself justice.
But against Allen Evans played to a far higher standard, competing and fighting throughout the match – let down only by a missed red that would have seen her win 3-1.
Jason Ferguson, chairman of governing body the WPBSA, said: “Reanne and Ng On Yee, both on tour now, can inspire the next generation of women players.
“Reanne is a hero, a trailblazer and a pioneer. And I think we will see a moment like Fallon Sherrock produced in the darts – big wins in the biggest tournaments – very soon.
“I will be extremely surprised if it doesn’t happen this year – but it will happen.
“Even though she just lost I think the match could be a real springboard for Reanne, and it showed exactly what is going on in this sport. The women players are getting the experience.
“The sport is inclusive and the creation of World Women’s Snooker was intended to create opportunities and create a more attractive environment to play and train.
“It is now a full feeder tour to the main tour. And Reanne demonstrated a theory I have long subscribed to – that a women can compete against a man in snooker.”