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01 October 2023

Ding knocked out by O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against Ding Junhui during day one of the Masters at Alexandra Palace on Sunday in London, England. (GETTY)


Ding Junhui's attempt to defend his Masters title came to an abrupt end as the Chinese star was beaten by Ronnie O'Sullivan in their first-round clash at London's Alexandra Palace on Sunday.

Ding beat Marco Fu 10-4 in the first ever all-Asian Masters final last year, but the world number nine found four-time champion O'Sullivan too hot to handle.

O'Sullivan thrilled a packed crowd in the first match played at the tournament's new home after its move from Wembley, claiming the final two frames to win 6-4 and finishing off with a classy 125.

O'Sullivan had led 4-1 and looked to be cruising through to the quarter-finals, but Ding's fightback began with a fluked red and he levelled the match.

However, with the support of the London crowd firmly behind him, former world champion O'Sullivan rediscovered his best form.

A break of 51 set him up to regain the lead before the century - almost a total clearance but the black stayed up - put an impressive seal on his success.

O'Sullivan, who will face either UK champion Judd Trump or Stuart Bingham in his next match on Thursday, admitted he had to dig deep to subdue Ding.

"You lose a frame against someone like Ding and you think he could punish you," he said.

"You expect to lose two or three frames off the back of that and that's what happened. I still had couple of chances but my head went really.

"At 4-1 down he was probably thinking he was out of it, but at 4-4 he was back in it and it was a different game."