When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object something has to give. But who will win out between the fast, attacking Ronnie O’Sullivan and the gritty, grinding Peter Ebdon in the second round of the Pukka Pies UK Championship today?
Famously, indeed controversially, the tortoise beat the hare at the Crucible in 2005 when Ebdon mounted a rearguard action to recover from 8-2 down and win their quarter-final 13-11.
Ebdon denied that he had slowed the pace of play down deliberately – at one point he took five minutes to make a break of 12 – but, all the same, he got under O’Sullivan’s skin and did a proper number on him.
Ebdon has won 11 of his 28 meetings with O’Sullivan, not a terrible record by any means against the world no.1.
But O’Sullivan demonstrated great patience in beating Matthew Stevens 9-3 yesterday, exhibiting some sublime safety play and gradually getting better as the match went on, winning nine of the last ten frames.
O’Sullivan may not look forward to playing Ebdon but would enjoy beating him.
Looking for a fifth UK title, O’Sullivan has arrived in Telford in cheery form fresh from turning 34 last weekend.
He is in a good mood following the coup that saw his friend Barry Hearn installed as chairman of the WPBSA.
And though his game is not at 100% yet, he’s not a player anyone wants to draw.
Ebdon had a good win over Judd Trump in which he won all five frames played in the final session. O’Sullivan, though, is a different prospect entirely.
Ding Junhui certainly has the game to end Shaun Murphy’s title defence but has only beaten him once in six meetings.
Ali Carter was delayed until midnight through a combination of a stubborn opponent in Rory McLeod and the roll on/roll off format whereas his second round opponent, Stephen Lee, has had a day off between matches.
Rank outsider Peter Lines is appearing in the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time in ten years but twice champion Mark Williams surely represents a match too far for him.