Jordan Brown Beats Ronnie O’Sullivan in Welsh Open Thriller

The Antrim Ferrari was a 750/1 outsider before the tournament began.

Jordan Brown has sealed a remarkable maiden ranking event victory after beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.

A gripping clash at the Celtic Manor Resort ebbed one way and then the other before the world number 81 held his nerve to superbly clinch the final frame.

As well as collecting the £70,000 champion’s cheque and the Ray Reardon Trophy, Brown also becomes only the fourth player from Northern Ireland to win a ranking event after countrymen Alex Higgins, Dennis Taylor, and regular practice partner Mark Allen.

An entertaining first session saw both players trade nice breaks, but Brown managed to establish a crucial advantage on the back of winning several close frames.

The 33 year-old won the first two that could have gone either way before contributions of 78 and 107 helped him to a 4-1 lead.

O’Sullivan responded with a brace of his own tons and looked set to restore parity, only to again lose a topsy-turvy frame to trail 5-3 at the end of the afternoon’s play.

The Rocket began the contest as an incredible 1/14 favourite, but he had to scrap to win a dramatic first frame upon the restart to halve the deficit once more.

When quick-fire breaks of 68 and 61 moved O’Sullivan into the lead for the first time at 6-5, the writing appeared to be on the wall for the underdog.

However, O’Sullivan lost position at a pivotal juncture of the 12th frame and Brown, whose safety was outstanding throughout the affair, prevailed in another tactical battle to leave the scores tied at 6-6 during the last mid-session interval.

With the following two frame shared, Brown pounced on an unexpected missed pink from his esteemed opponent to move within one of a famous glory.

A magnificent 119 clearance from O’Sullivan, though, ensured that a final that was absorbing from start to finish got what it probably deserved – a decider.

The 45 year-old had the first opportunity thanks to an outrageous fluke, but a wild lash at a long blue gifted Brown with the chance he desperately wanted.

And even though he ran out of position a few times, the former European Amateur Championship runner-up defied the odds with an excellent 74 break.

It was Brown’s fifth deciding-frame victory of the tournament, which also included a similarly tense black-ball defeat of Mark Selby in the quarter-finals.

Prior to last month’s German Masters, Brown had never before been beyond the last 32 of a ranking event, which makes this achievement that bit more incredible.

“I’m absolutely speechless,” an emotional Brown said just before raising the Welsh Open trophy aloft.

“It was an absolute honour to play Ronnie in the final – he’s the greatest of all time, it was a privilege.”

“I always believed in myself, I had some dark days but that’s what makes you stronger as a person.

“I was working full-time at a petrol station but I was playing full-time snooker as well. It’s all worth it now, it means everything and it’s a dream come true.”

O’Sullivan was gracious in what was his third reverse in a Home Nations final this campaign after previous losses to Judd Trump and Mark Selby in the title deciders of the Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens respectively.

Indeed, the world champion hasn’t added to his trophy cabinet since capturing a sixth Crucible crown six month ago.

He was a monstrous favourite to add a record-extending 38th ranking crown to his tally prior to today’s showdown, but few were expecting his opponent to produce that kind of consistent level.

Brown, who will now gain an invite to the Champion of Champions later this year, didn’t fluke his success and played terrific snooker to beat an in-form O’Sullivan, which will undoubtedly make the feat that bit sweeter.

An additional reward for Brown for his Welsh Open exploits is that he’ll be in the line-up for next week’s lucrative Players Championship.

There isn’t much time to celebrate his finest career moment, although as he put it, he feels he’s now where he belongs.

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