Ronnie O’Sullivan’s latest quest to get his hands on the Northern Ireland Open trophy begins against Stuart Carrington at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Sunday.
The Rocket has been beaten by Judd Trump in each of the last three finals at this event; all of which have ended in 9-7 defeats.
Playing his first snooker since the Championship League two months ago, O’Sullivan will be eager to end his wait for silverware – both in this event and in general.
Indeed, the six-time World champion is yet to taste victory in a ranking tournament since his latest triumph at the Crucible in August 2020.
A beaten finalist in five ranking events last term, the 45-year-old will look to resume his 30th season on the main tour in style.
He has won two of his three previous meetings with Carrington – including a 4-1 success in the third round of this event in 2019.
Although, the Grimsby cueist prevailed a 5-3 winner in a qualifier for the 2016 German Masters; a result from which he will look to draw inspiration nearly six years later.
That run to the third round two years ago marks Carrington’s best performance at the Northern Ireland Open to date.
A two-time ranking event semi-finalist, the 31-year-old is embarking on his 10th season as a professional.
The world number 51 has already reached the second stage of this year’s Championship League, and will need to be on top form if he is to spring a shock on the Rocket in Belfast.
The match gets underway at around 8pm BST on Sunday, and will be contested over the best of seven frames at the Waterfront Hall.
It will be available to watch live on desktop, mobile and tablet devices for fans in various regions worldwide.
The winner will take on former World, UK and Masters semi-finalist Andy Hicks in the Second Round next week.
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