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O'Sullivan refuses to relinquish Crucible crown

ESPN staff
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Ronnie O'Sullivan has not lost at the Crucible since 2011 © Getty Images
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Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan fought back from 11-9 down to beat Joe Perry 13-11 and book his spot in the quarter-finals of the World Championship at the Crucible.

The five-time champion of the world trailed 9-7 heading into the third and final session on Saturday morning, but after falling 11-9 behind stormed back to win four successive frames to overcome former semi-finalist Perry.

O'Sullivan with runs of 42 and 45 reduced the deficit to one frame at 9-8, but Perry restored his two-frame advantage after winning the safety battle in the 18th frame.

An 82 which began with a fluke enabled O'Sullivan to make it 10-9, but Perry went into the mid-session interval 11-9 in front after O'Sullivan missed a simple red.

O'Sullivan pulled level for the first time since the second frame as his 52 made it 11-11. He then swept to victory with back-to-back centuries of 124 and 113.

"I just stayed determined right to the end. I was never going to give in," he said. "It was hard because I was coming from behind all the time and he was playing well. Every time I got close he'd pull away.

"I was missing a few shots and he got on top of me so I had to draw on all my experience. I had to use that as my ace card and stick in until something happened.

"The fans certainly got their money's worth. It was a more exciting match than any of the finals I've had. It was one of the most exciting matches I've ever had at the Crucible and Joe played his part in a great match.

"That's the closest I've been to going out for quite a while. You realise you're in control of most matches but I wasn't in that one. I knew I could only win it if it went close because he was playing too well. I knew I had to be patient and make him earn it."

Alan McManus became the third person into the last eight when he beat Ken Doherty 13-8 in the battle of the veterans. McManus will play Mark Selby, who edged Ali Carter on Friday.

Last year's runner-up Barry Hawkins won eight of the last ten frames to get the better of Ricky Walden 13-11.

"It was an absolute battle from start to finish," Hawkins told WorldSnooker.com. "I managed to pot a few balls towards the end but even then I was making hard work of it."

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