It was the draw both will have envisioned in their worst nightmares, but former partners Mark Allen and Reanne Evans will have to face off at the snooker table despite being locked in a bitter personal feud.
The pair learned of their impending meeting last month, when they were drawn together for the first round of the British Open in Leicester.
Evans, who was made an MBE last year for services to the women’s game, is the most successful female snooker player of all time and has been handed a two-year professional tour card, alongside Ng On-yee of Hong Kong.
She was drawn against her former partner by complete chance, with no seeding at the tournament which will take place at the Morningside Arena.
Who are Allen and Evans?
Mark ‘The Pistol’ Allen has been a familiar face on the tour for more than 15 years, after choosing to concentrate on snooker instead of pursuing a career as a footballer.
In 2005 the Northern Irishman was in a relationship with Reanne Evans, the women’s world champion, and later had a daughter together.
But the pair split in 2008 and Allen later described the deep depression the end of their relationship brought about for him.
Evans, from Dudley in the West Midlands, is now a 12-time women’s champion.
Why are they in a feud?
Against the backdrop of a row over maintenance payments, the personal feud between the pair made headlines at the World Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in April.
Evans was there as a pundit for the BBC, in a studio set up in the practice room.
Allen was preparing for a match when he sensationally asked for her to be removed from the room, as she provided a distraction for him when he wanted to concentrate on his upcoming fixture.
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His request was granted, as the BBC confirmed Evans was asked to leave for around 10 minutes while Allen practiced.
“Her broadcast commitments weren’t affected,” a spokesperson added.
Evans was said to be upset and embarrassed by the incident, and worried that it may affect her future work prospects as a pundit.
Allen has since declared himself bankrupt despite earning millions over the course of his career, and is divorcing wife Kyla McGuigan.
When is their meeting?
The two must play one another in the first round of the British Open, which is being held at the Morningside Arena in Leicester next week.
Their match is scheduled for Monday, August 16, to start at 7pm. However, it is now expected that they will be the second match on, so might not start until 8pm or 8:30pm.
How can I watch?
The tournament returns to the world tour schedule for the first time in 17 years, and will welcome fans back too with Covid restrictions allowing a crowd to watch on in Leicester.
ITV will provide live coverage of the tournament, with much of it set to be broadcast on ITV4.
Evans’ match with Allen looks likely to be shown live, as ITV4 is scheduled to go live at 6.45pm, just before the match between the pair begins.
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