Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui Fight Back in English Open

They looked like heading for a possible early exit before rallying to reach the second round in Milton Keynes.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui’s English Open campaigns got off to a shaky start but the pair eventually made it through on Monday’s opening day.

O’Sullivan, who lost to rookie Aaron Hill in the European Masters last month, appeared set for another high-profile flop when he trailed amateur Brian Ochoiski 2-0.

The Frenchman had compiled a century break to move to within two frames of a shock victory, but the world champion responded with three breaks above 50 and a ton of his own to emerge on top.

O’Sullivan, who won the English Open in 2017 when it was previously staged in Barnsley, was sporting pink fingernails in support of Breast Cancer awareness.

Ding’s retrieval was even more impressive as he knocked in contributions of 77, 66, 53, and 50 to claw his way back from 3-0 down and pip fellow Chinese competitor Si Jiahui in a decider.

It was much easier for reigning champion Mark Selby and world number three Neil Robertson, who both secured their last 64 berths with comfortable 4-0 whitewash wins.

Mark Allen, Yan Bingtao, and 2016 champion Liang Wenbo were among the other notable names to move beyond their initial tests.

There were a few standout results, with Welshman Jamie Clarke continuing his fine form of late with a 4-1 triumph over Ali Carter and Sunny Akani recording a similar scoreline against Stephen Maguire.

Elsewhere, Steven Hallworth upset European Masters runner-up Martin Gould and Oliver Lines overcame Noppon Saengkham – both by three-frame margins as well.

Michael Holt beat a frustrated Jimmy White, while there were victories for Joe Perry, Ricky Walden, and Kurt Maflin.

At the beginning of the day, a positive coronavirus test for Stuart Carrington resulted in his late withdrawal from the event, gifting Thepchaiya Un-Nooh a bye through to the second round.

As Sam Craigie was in close proximity to Carrington on the eve of the tournament, he too was forced to pull out with World Championship semi-finalist Anthony McGill the fortunate beneficiary.

The action continues on Tuesday with the first round reaching its conclusion and the likes of Judd Trump, Shaun Murphy, and Kyren Wilson entering the fray.

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