Vafaei Prevails Over O’Sullivan in Thrilling Huading Nylon World Open Clash

In the latest chapter of their rivalry, Hossein Vafaei emerged victorious over Ronnie O’Sullivan with a narrow 5-4 win in the last 16 of the Huading Nylon World Open in Yushan. This crucial victory keeps Vafaei’s hopes alive for qualifying in the Johnstone’s Paint Tour Championship, where only the top 12 players of the season earn a coveted spot. To secure his position, Vafaei must advance to the semi-finals, surpassing John Higgins to claim the 12th spot.

Despite facing defeat today, O’Sullivan maintains his position as the world number one as he heads into the Tour Championship. This accomplishment marks his longest unbroken spell at the summit, lasting two years when the event commences on April 1st. The rivalry between Vafaei and O’Sullivan has been marked by a chequered history, with memorable encounters including a 5-0 victory for Vafaei during the 2022 German Masters qualifying and a crushing 13-2 defeat at the World Championship last year, where they shared a warm embrace afterward.

Their latest encounter saw a tightly contested match, with Vafaei leading 4-3 and on the brink of victory before O’Sullivan’s remarkable break of 125 forced the final frame. Despite an early opportunity for Vafaei, a missed red allowed O’Sullivan to counter with a break of 62. In a tense finale, Vafaei displayed nerves of steel, securing victory by a single point with a precise shot on the black.

Reflecting on the match, Vafaei expressed mixed emotions, stating, “I feel great, but to be honest with you I’m still shocked how I missed that red.” However, he expressed his joy at defeating his hero and emphasized the significance of the present moment over past results.

In other matches, Kyren Wilson secured a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Ben Woollaston with a superb break of 119, setting up a quarter-final showdown with world number two Judd Trump. Barry Hawkins also advanced to the last eight with an impressive 5-1 win over Stephen Maguire, showcasing formidable runs of 129, 67, 71, and 54. Hawkins now eagerly awaits the outcome of the match between Neil Robertson and Chris Wakelin.

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