Ronnie O’Sullivan is through to the Northern Ireland Open semi-finals after reeling off five consecutive frames to sweep aside Ding Junhui 5-2 in Milton Keynes.
The six-time World champion appeared in danger at 2-0 down in his eagerly anticipated quarter-final showdown with the Chinese ace at Marshall Arena.
However, the Rocket came back firing with four half-centuries as he capitalised on Ding’s mistakes to advance to the last four.
O’Sullivan had prevailed in 14 of his previous 18 meetings with Ding, including their most recent clash at the World Championship in August.
But the Dragon made an excellent start, capitalising on a missed red from his opponent, he produced a stunning break of 121 before a neat 87 clearance doubled his lead.
Ding, who had dropped just two frames on the way to reaching the quarter-finals, had a chance to make it 3-0, but his failure to execute an ambitious plant saw O’Sullivan get on the board.
The Rocket followed with runs of 59 and 70 as he turned the tie on its head. He then controlled frame six after Ding wasted another decent opportunity, before a contribution of 79 saw him over the line.
O’Sullivan set up a semi-final showdown with Ali Carter and what will be the first meeting between the players since their infamous clash at the 2018 World Championship.
Like the Rocket, the Captain fell 2-0 behind against Kurt Maflin, who he had beaten in their previous four encounters, but won five of the next six frames to progress to his first ranking event semi-final in just under a year.
Earlier in the day, Judd Trump maintained his bid to lift the Alex Higgins Trophy for a third consecutive year with a commanding 5-1 success over Scott Donaldson.
The world number one – winner of this event in 2018 and 2019 – made breaks of 70, 112, 52 and 86 as he made it three victories from three against the Scotsman.
Standing in his way of another appearance in the final is David Grace, who recorded an impressive 5-2 victory over Yan Bingtao.
The world number 67 had runs of 67, 70 and 59, before a magnificent break of 104 sealed his place in a ranking event semi-final for only the second time.
Northern Ireland Open 2020 Results
Friday November 20
121 Judd Trump 5-1 Scott Donaldson
123 Ali Carter 5-3 Kurt Maflin
122 Yan Bingtao 2-5 David Grace
124 Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-2 Ding Junhui