Mark Allen survived a missed match ball from ex-partner Reanne Evans before snatching victory in a deciding frame to spare his blushes in Round One of the British Open.
The historic clash was the first in snooker history between two former partners and provided drama aplenty at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
It came just months after Allen had requested for Evans to be removed from the practice room at The Crucible whilst she was preparing for a punditry stint for the BBC.
The pair had been involved in a dispute over maintenance payments for their 14-year-old daughter and their row at The Crucible had been subject to a WPBSA investigation.
The tone was immediately set for a frosty atmosphere inside the arena as Evans declined Allen’s offer of a pre-match fist bump.
It was Allen who drew first blood by taking the opening frame after Evans had broken down on 34.
However, a second frame littered with errors from both players was eventually won by Evans as she seized upon a costly missed yellow from the Northern Irishman to level up.
The 12-time women’s World Champion was backed by a vocal contingent of fans and grew in confidence with a break of 56 to move in front.
Evans looked set to close out victory with a 60-point lead in frame four, but the pivotal moment in the match saw her miss a red along the bottom cushion, allowing Allen in to produce a nerveless 47 clearance to force a decider.
The reigning Champion of Champions winner made no mistake in crossing the winning line, piling in a swift 68 break to complete the turnaround.
“It was awful, not one I want to do again really,” Allen told ITV Sport.
“I’m happy with the clearance I made in frame four. Reanne was unlucky when she potted a blue and cannoned the two reds below the pink. If she gets that cannon right, the match is over.”
“At that point she would have deserved it, she played much better than me but I hung in there and made a good clearance and a good break to win it.
“She potted some unbelievable individual balls, just struggled a little bit with position. She was very unfortunate not to go on and win 3-1.
“I just wanted to try and play snooker, I got a chance in the last frame of a snooker match and that’s all it was to me.”
Allen will now await his Second Round opponent from the random draw to be conducted following the conclusion of the First Round on Wednesday afternoon.
Evans admitted: “I was actually really proud of myself out there. In the first frame I couldn’t feel my legs or my arms. I don’t know how the first few pots went in.
“After that I settled a bit and was taken aback by a few misses and top players do what they do and you’ve got to respect that.
“I’m absolutely gutted but proud at the same time.
On her decision not to engage in a fist bump pre-match, she revealed: “It was a bit of everything really. I wasn’t intending to do it with Covid and everything and I was told there would be no handshakes so I just headed straight to the table and that’s it at the end of the day.”
Elsewhere, world number one Judd Trump also survived a scare as he came from 2-1 down to steal a 3-2 win over Mitchell Mann – who was left to rue a crucial missed blue in the decider.
Former World Champions Mark Williams and Ken Doherty and former UK Champion Jimmy White each enjoyed 3-0 wins, seeing off Tian Pengfei, Zak Surety and Aaron Hill respectively.
Earlier in the day, John Higgins had produced his 12th career maximum break in the opening frame of his 3-1 win over Alexander Ursenbacher.
The 147 puts Higgins in line for the £5,000 high break bonus and moves him above Stephen Hendry into second on the all-time maximum list.
When you come up against your ex at the snooker and she blanks you. Ouch 😬😬 pic.twitter.com/UANRVVVZ4h
— Shamoon Hafez (@ShamoonHafez) August 16, 2021
British Open Snooker 2021 Results
Monday August 16
Robbie Williams 3-1 Sunny Akani
Steven Hallworth 2-3 Joe O’Connor
Xu Si 3-2 Fan Zhengyi
Zhang Anda 1-3 John Astley
Liang Wenbo 3-1 Simon Lichtenberg
Andrew Higginson 2-3 Jordan Brown
Dylan Emery 3-2 Gao Yang
Jak Jones 3-2 Lyu Haotian
John Higgins 3-1 Alexander Ursenbacher – *Higgins makes a maximum break*
Yuan SiJun 2-3 Louis Heathcote
Ben Woollaston 2-3 Hammad Miah
Chen Zifan 3-0 Farakh Ajaib
Zak Surety 0-3 Ken Doherty
Gerard Greene 2-3 Martin O’Donnell
Mark Williams 3-0 Tian Pengfei
Aaron Hill 0-3 Jimmy White
Matthew Selt 3-2 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Mitchell Mann 2-3 Judd Trump
Ashley Carty 0-3 Bai Langning
David Lilley 3-1 Craig Steadman
Ian Burns 3-1 Michael White
Stuart Carrington 0-3 Liam Highfield
Mark Allen 3-2 Reanne Evans
Zhou Yuelong 3-2 Tom Ford