Ronnie O’Sullivan breaks two more Crucible records with victory over Mark Allen

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Ronnie O’Sullivan shrugged off two more Crucible records after winning the solitary frame he needed to polish off a 13-4 win over Mark Allen and cruise into the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship for the 20th time.

As well as eclipsing the previous best he shared with Stephen Hendry for reaching the last eight, O’Sullivan’s 71st career win also took him clear for the number of matches won by a single player at The Crucible.

Typically O’Sullivan, who is now favourite to match the Scot’s record of seven Crucible crowns next week, repeated his regular assertion that he has no interest in most of the plaudits that keep coming his way.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” insisted O’Sullivan. “They’re not the kinds of statistics that I’m proud of. The ones that I’m proud of are the majors and that’s about it really.”

O’Sullivan had done all the hard work in the first two sessions of his match against Allen, making their return on Saturday a formality.

But he insisted the relatively-effortless nature of his victory belied a tough battle to stay at the top of his game, invoking the example of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee.

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2022 – Day 7 – The Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan returned to win one frame against Mark Allen (Ian Hodgson/PA)

“It comes down to quite a few years of practice and years of dedication and of trying to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be,” added O’Sullivan.

“If you look at Bruce Lee, he trained for many hours, not just mentally but physically. We’re experts in different fields but I try to approach my sport in a way which is no different.

“It’s not easy – I really struggle with it, to be honest with you. Even when I steam-rollered everyone in 2012, it wasn’t easy. It is all about just playing to have fun, enjoy it and relish every moment even when it’s not going great.”

O’Sullivan will face Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after the 41-year-old Scot made the most of a borrowed cue to withstand a fightback from UK champion Zhao Xintong.

Maguire resumed the final session of their match two frames from victory but lost four of the first five on Saturday before a break of 59 saw him seal a 13-9 win over the Chinese seventh seed.

Maguire, a two-time semi-finalist who has plummeted to 40 in the current world rankings, revealed he took drastic measures after being distinctly unimpressed with his form during a gruelling first-round win over Shaun Murphy.

Maguire, who is guaranteed at least £50,000 by reaching the last eight, said: “When I played Shaun I was rubbish and Shaun was even worse, so I went back up to Glasgow and made my mind up that I wasn’t coming back with that cue because I felt like I had no chance.

“I borrowed my mate’s cue and had a couple of days of practice with it and liked it and it has seemed to pay off. I’ll ask my mate how much he wants for it – hopefully not a lot.”

Zhao had threatened to launch a stirring comeback after making a good start to their final session and could have heaped more pressure on Maguire in the 22nd frame, only for a missed pink to the middle to effectively end his chances.

“I think I can learn from this experience and next year I will be better,” said Zhao, for whom defeat rounds off a breakthrough season that saw him clinch the UK and German Masters crowns. “I have confidence that one day I will win this tournament.”

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2022 – Day 8 – The Crucible
Stephen Maguire moved into the last eight at The Crucible (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Defending champion Mark Selby faces a battle to cling onto his Crucible crown as he trailed Yan Bingtao 9-7 heading into Saturday evening’s concluding session of their second-round match.

Yan, the 22-year-old Masters champion, threatened to out-muscle his opponent by taking the first three frames – including an opening century – to establish a 7-4 lead.

Selby responded with a break of 132 and came from behind to steal a pivotal 14th frame when Yan had looked on the brink of extending his lead to 9-5.

Another century from Selby reduced the deficit to a single frame but Yan proved up for the challenge, winning a lengthy safety battle in the final frame of the session to ensure a slender advantage.

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