Ronnie O’Sullivan steps up his quest for an eighth UK Championship title with a Last 16 tie against Noppon Saengkham in York on Wednesday.
A tournament of shocks has seen 11 of the world’s top 16 crash out of the season’s first Triple Crown event within the opening three rounds.
Incredibly, O’Sullivan is the only former UK Champion left standing in this year’s field and is looking to end his ranking title drought in the absence of a number of his key rivals.
O’Sullivan last tasted success in a televised tournament at the 2020 World Championship and has subsequently lost in five finals.
The number four seed made his UK Championship debut back in 1992 and became the youngest winner of a ranking event at the age of 17 years and 358 days when he triumphed the following year – a record that still stands today.
The Rocket, who most recently lifted this trophy in 2018, was a semi-finalist in the recent English Open and quarter-finalist in last week’s Champion of Champions – losing out to rival John Higgins on both occasions.
He began his latest campaign at the York Barbican with a 6-3 win over Michael White, before defeating Robbie Williams 6-2 and his old adversary Mark King 6-3.
O’Sullivan now meets Thailand’s number two Saengkham for the second time in this event, having prevailed 6-2 when the pair met in the Last 32 two years ago.
Saengkham, appearing in his ninth consecutive UK Championship, has won through to the Last 16 stage for the first time, defeating Ireland’s Aaron Hill 6-2 in Round One before overcoming Ali Carter 6-3 and edging out 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham in a deciding frame epic on Monday.
Bingham had battled back from 5-0 down to force a decider, but only for Saengkham to close out victory in sensational fashion with a break of 121.
The world number 45 is a two-time ranking event semi-finalist and is hoping to make it third time lucky against O’Sullivan.
Their latest encounter gets under way from 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames.
Either fifth seed Kyren Wilson or Ben Woollaston will await the winner in the Quarter-Finals on Friday.
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