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Ding denied by O’Sullivan despite “amazing” Masters maximum break

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Ding delighted Alexandra Palace with his second Masters maximum break

Ding Junhui produced an “amazing” maximum break at the Masters, but it proved in vain as he went down 6-3 against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The Dragon achieved perfection during the seventh frame of the first-round clash at Alexandra Palace, becoming the first player to make a 147 on two occasions at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event.

Ding, who also hit a maximum against Anthony Hamilton in the 2007 tournament, had trailed 4-0 as O’Sullivan opened with breaks of 67, 87 and 106 in a rerun of the UK Championship final 36 days earlier, which the Rocket won 10-7 to seal an eighth title.

However, he hit back after the interval – snatching frame five on the black with a 56 clearance after the Rocket missed a routine red when leading 59-5.

The 2011 champion closed the gap further with 92 before compiling his seventh maximum break – the fourth at the Masters and the 195th in tournament play.

“To make the maximum is amazing. I’ve had a long time not feeling that way, so I’m happy enough,” he said.

“It’s big pressure and you need some luck. The records and history will always be nice. I try to play nicely, play good matches and make maximums.

“I had a lot of chances at the start of the match and made 20 or 30, then just messed up somewhere. After the interval, I came back and didn’t think I would play that well.

“Ronnie played so good today. He’s feeling well. From the start to the end, it was always one visit and making frame-winning [breaks]. I tried to take my chances.”

It proved a false dawn for Ding, though, as he overcut a red early in frame eight, allowing O’Sullivan to respond with brilliant clearances of 127 and 93 to get over the line.

Nevertheless, the seven-time Masters champion paid tribute to his friendly rival, with whom he played a series of exhibitions across Asia during the festive period.

“[It was an] unbelievable 147. I knew he was going to make it from about the second or third red; his positional play is so good,” O’Sullivan said. “He just wasn’t out of position once; what a magnificent player.

“His cue-ball control is better than anybody ever; no-one’s ever controlled the ball like Ding in and amongst the balls. He’s just a delight to watch. I’m envious; if you can play snooker like that with that positional play, it’s a lovely game to play.”