Mark Allen’s epic Northern Ireland Open winning streak ended by Estonia’s Andres Petrov
'There was a group of people in Estonia watching me and cheering me on.'
Defending champion Mark Allen was stunned in the second round of the Northern Ireland Open late on Monday night, losing 4-3 to Estonia’s Andres Petrov.
The Pistol had won the last two editions of his home event in Belfast, meaning his first round victory this year took his winning streak in Northern Ireland to 15 matches.
However, it came to a surprising end at 1.44am on Tuesday as Petrov squeezed over the line and into the last 32 on the final black of the final frame.
It was a shock result but not a memorable game in terms of quality, with just one half-century in the entire match, Petrov’s break of exactly 50 in the second frame.
Allen had the chance to avoid the upset and put the performance behind him at the death, rattling the final blue in the jaws, which allowed Petrov to pot the last three balls and pick up the biggest win of his career.
It continues a difficult start to the season for the world number four, who has managed just one quarter-final at the Wuhan Open among a string of surprisingly early exits.
He tweeted after the loss to Petrov: ‘Not to be tonight. Gave it absolutely everything but came up just short. Thanks to everyone for their support as always here in Belfast. It doesn’t go unnoticed and you deserved better.
‘Back to the practice table for me. Thanks also to 32red and Omin Cues for the support.’
The victory was just the second of the season for world number 96 Petrov after he downed Sanderson Lam in the opening round of this event. He posted afterwards: ‘I. Cannot. Believe. It.’
Petrov told WST: ‘It’s the best win of my career, by far. I was really lucky in the end. When I was over the last black, I was thinking “this is for my daughter and I will pot it.”
‘I hope my wife back in Estonia was sleeping and not watching because she has to wake up soon. I am so happy to get through, I can’t describe what it means to me. I know I was playing the local favourite here, but I also knew there was a group of people in Estonia watching me and cheering me on, and that helped.’
The 27-year-old will now 18-year-old Xing Zihao from China in the last 32, with both having the chance to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time.
Allen wasn’t the only big name to fall on Monday in Belfast with Neil Robertson continuing his poor run of results with a second round loss to Jordan Brown.
The former world champion has not been past the second round of any ranking event so far this campaign and fell early again, beaten 4-1 by the man from Antrim.
‘Beating an all-time great in Neil in front of my home crowd – it doesn’t get better than that,’ said the former Welsh Open champion. ‘I absolutely loved it out there, it was an amazing feeling.
‘It’s right up there with my best wins, even if Neil has not been in his best form. I just concentrated on myself and I felt I was in control for most of the match.’
Elsewhere there was a dramatic 4-3 win for Shaun Murphy over Marco Fu, while the Magician’s protege, 17-year-old Stan Moody, continued to impress.
The Yorkshire teenager downed last year’s finalist Zhou Yuelong in the opening round and followed it up with a 4-1 win over veteran Rod Lawler on Monday to book a last 32 meeting with Gary Wilson.
‘I have more confidence and belief now that I have won a couple of matches, especially beating a player as good as Zhou to qualify,’ said the talented prospect. ‘I know I can do it now. I will just keep playing my game and I know if I do that I can beat anyone.’
Murphy’s next opponent will be Sean O’Sullivan, who also pulled off an impressive victory, knocking in breaks of 124, 56 and 68 in the final three frames to battle back from the brink and beat Zak Surety 4-3 shortly before midnight on Monday.
The action continues from 10am Tuesday in Belfast.
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