Ronnie O’Sullivan continued his superb form to defeat Germany’s talented Lukas Kleckers in the first round of the Northern Ireland Open.
Last week’s Shanghai Masters winner O’Sullivan held off an impressive fightback against his 21-year-old opponent to record a 4-2 win.
Following his English Open victory last month, O’Sullivan is the only player who can win snooker’s biggest prize ever of £1million but to do it he must win the Northern Ireland Open, the Scottish Open and the Welsh Open in the coming months.
And breaks of 91, 126 and a match-winning run of 71 saw the five-times world champion take a step closer to the huge prize in Belfast tonight.
O’Sullivan next faces Welshman Duane Jones in the next round.
Meanwhile, there was midnight drama in Belfast as world number nine Barry Hawkins became the latest big casualty from the first round after he lost a final frame decider to China’s Zhou Xintong..
The 2013 World Championship finalist appeared to be in control when he took a 2-0 lead but Xintong won the next three to take a 3-2 lead. Hawkins then made a break of 64 to force a decider but it was the promising China star who ended as the winner.
Hawkins joins Shaun Murphy, Kyren Wilson and Judd Trump as the big names to suffer early exits in the Northern Ireland Open.