O'Sullivan misses maximum chance

Ronnie O’Sullivan missed out on a possible £157,000 (€177,000) jackpot but still clinched a commanding lead over Stuart Bingham in their first-round match at the Betfred.com World Championship.

After recovering from 3-2 down to lead 5-3, O’Sullivan was on target for a maximum 147 break in the ninth frame, the last of the session.

He potted 10 reds and nine blacks, but the 10th black squirmed out via the jaws of the top left pocket, to gasps of disappointment from the packed crowd at the Crucible.

He still had a lead of 73 over his occasional practice partner, but the black had not been difficult.

A maximum break would have provided O’Sullivan with prize-money of £147,000 (€166,000) for the 147, plus £10,000 (€11,300) for the highest break prize, provided it was not matched during the rest of the tournament.

The tournament sponsors have also pledged to donate £147,000 (€166,000) to Sport Relief for the first maximum at this year’s tournament.

Bingham could not force his way back into the frame, and O’Sullivan clinched the three-frame advantage which he will take into tonight’s concluding session.

Although he failed in a bid for the fourth Crucible maximum of his career, O’Sullivan did manage two century breaks.

He took the first frame with a break of 61, but better was to come in the next.

In barely seven minutes the 33-year-old constructed a smooth total clearance of 140.

He was demonstrating his ambidexterity with left-handed and right-handed shots.

However Bingham, who had barely been out of his seat in the opening two frames, made runs of 67 and 36 to cut O’Sullivan’s lead, and he then won a scrappy fourth to move onto level terms in the best-of-19-frames match at the mid-session interval.

Former world amateur champion Bingham defeated the then defending champion Stephen Hendry in the first round in 2000 and was looking for another major scalp.

A 58 break in the fifth frame handed him a 3-2 lead, but four frames in a row won by O’Sullivan changed the complexion of the match.

He made it 3-3 after a tight sixth frame before a 72 break edged him 4-3 ahead.

Then came O’Sullivan’s second century, a terrific break of 104 which earned him a 5-3 lead.

The crowd were gripped as it became apparent a 147 was on the cards in the final frame of the session, but O’Sullivan’s luck was out.

On the other table it was slow going between Mark King and Rory McLeod.

McLeod, making his Crucible debut at the age of 38 and becoming the first black player to play at the event, grabbed the opening frame but world number 15 King won three in a row to lead 3-1 at the mid-session interval.

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