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Mark Allen vows to get under the skin of Ronnie O’Sullivan in Crucible clash

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O’Sullivan and Allen go head-to-head (Photo by Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo)

Mark Allen has vowed to get under a “beatable” Ronnie O’Sullivan’s skin when the pair face off in the Second Round of the 2022 World Snooker Championship at The Crucible.

Allen and O’Sullivan meet for the first time since their fiery Quarter-Final encounter at the 2020 Tour Championship which saw the pair locked in confrontation during the match.

Allen prevailed 6-3 on that occasion, with the pair coming to blows after O’Sullivan accused his opponent of moving around whilst he was playing a shot.

In his post-match interview, Allen maintained his innocence and accused O’Sullivan of being “a bully”.

“He got himself worked up over nothing,” recalled Allen after his First Round win over Scott Donaldson earlier this week. “I’ve watched the video back a million times, and I definitely didn’t do anything.”

Allen is making his 16th consecutive World Championship appearance but has historically struggled to produce his best form on the sport’s greatest stage.

The six-time ranking event winner reached the Semi-Finals in Sheffield in 2009, defeating O’Sullivan en route, and has since made it to a further three Quarter-Finals, but has failed to progress beyond Round Two in nine of his last ten appearances.

He admits he is fired up to face O’Sullivan again on the sport’s greatest stage for the first time in 13 years.

“You want to play the best on the biggest stages, and I’m no different,” said Allen.

“The only time we’ve ever played in Sheffield was the second round [in 2009] and I beat him, so I have to try and keep those memories going forward.

“Ronnie’s been coming here 30 years; he’s won six [titles], so that means he’s lost 24. I just want to be one of the 25 to beat him in this tournament.

“I appreciate how tough it’s going to be; you need to have all the attributes in your game firing. Any slight weakness and Ronnie’s going to punish you because of how good he is.”

O’Sullivan has won six of their ten previous meetings, most notably the 2018 UK Championship final.

The Rocket opened up with an impressive 10-5 win over 2019 semi-finalist David Gilbert, firing in four centuries along the way, and victory over Allen would see him eclipse Stephen Hendry’s record of 70 match wins at The Crucible.

The Pistol, however, insists O’Sullivan is there to be shot at, adding: “He looks in a good place so far, but we all know it can turn very quickly.

“It’s up to me to go out there on Friday and Saturday, try to play well and get under his skin a little bit.

“He is a genius and, in my opinion, the best that’s ever played the game, but he’s beatable.

“It’s not the Ronnie O’Sullivan show when we’re here at the Crucible; there’s 32 players trying to battle it out and it’s not all about Ronnie.

“Ronnie’s an absolute genius, but there is times when he tries other things to win matches as well. That’s something I’ve never really done; I just want to go out and play snooker.

“I’m not one to shy away from confrontation either. I always find when you’re playing Ronnie that if he starts to get agitated; it means you’re doing something right.”