Ronnie O’Sullivan sealed his place in a 25th Masters quarter-final with a 6-3 victory over Ding Junhui, who made a superb 147 in the seventh frame.
Speaking after the match, O’Sullivan said: “Unbelievable 147 from Ding. I knew he was going to make it [the 147] from about the second or third red, as his positional play is so good.
“He wasn’t out of position once. What a magnificent player, a great break and I was pleased to get over the line in the end.
“My cueing wasn’t great. I was trying to manufacture stuff out there, but I tried.”
O’Sullivan will now face either Barry Hawkins or Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals.
O’Sullivan seized the initiative in the opening frame when he was left with a chance to pot the red into the top left-hand pocket and followed it up by dispatching the blue. He would end with a clearance of 67 after potting the brown, and was finding his flow in the early exchanges.
Ding was able to cause the Rocket a few problems in the second frame, as he surrendered eight points from a snooker after being left behind the blue in baulk.
But the world No. 1 doubled his advantage after Ding failed to pot a long red, and O’Sullivan was able to clear up the colours at the end of a scrappy exchange of shots.
The third frame was more straightforward for the seven-time world champion, taking a break of 87 and averaging a mere 14 seconds per shot by the end of it.
Ding had his chances to make an impact on the contest, but left the door open for O’Sullivan again with a missed shot in his attempt to pot a black to the right middle.
There only looked like being one winner in a frame lasting only six-and-a-half minutes, as Ding made a hash of a safety shot and allowed the Rocket to land a long red on his way to a clearance of 106.
It was O’Sullivan’s 1,231st career century and 84th at the Masters – 38 more than Stephen Hendry at the tournament.
With only two frames needed to seal a place in the last eight, O’Sullivan missed a chance to move 5-0 ahead when a routine red to the bottom pocket rattled the jaws, offering a glimmer of hope to Ding.
Ding cleared up the remaining balls to made a break of 56 and get on the scoreboard.
Ding did not give O’Sullivan a chance to come to the table in the next frame and progressed to a commanding break of 92, leaving the final two reds and the colours on the table to reduce the deficit further at 4-2.
What followed was quite extraordinary, as Ding created more Masters history by taking his second maximum break in the competition and the fourth in its entire history.
He followed Kirk Stevens, Marco Fu and himself in achieving that feat, and left O’Sullivan with plenty to ponder as his lead was cut to 4-3.
The response from O’Sullivan was hugely impressive though, as he seized the initiative when Ding left a red over the top pocket and quickly put the frame to bed by racing into a break of 127.
The Rocket was one frame away from victory and Ding could only watch on as he secured a break of 93 to finish off this gripping contest.
The evening session on Monday sees Mark Williams take on Ali Carter.
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