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Five-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has been knocked out of the World Championship, losing 13-10 to China's Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals.

 

 

O'Sullivan's tournament had been overshadowed by his claims that he had been bullied by snooker bosses.

But he seemed unaffected by the controversy as he scored a tournament-high break of 146 to win three from four frames and get back to 11-9, having trailed 10-6.

The pair then shared the next two frames and Ding held his nerve, scoring a classy 117 to earn a semi-final place against Mark Selby.

Selby was in sensational form to thrash Marco Fu 13-3.

The reigning champion scored 139 and 143 but it was no surprise the latter mark was beaten by O'Sullivan in a match that featured five centuries and 18 breaks of more than 50. Only one of the 23 frames did not include a half-century.

O'Sullivan, 41, who hugged his equally emotional opponent at the end, said: "It was a fantastic match and I am really pleased to be involved. I really enjoyed it. I would rather lose a good match than win an awful one.

"Ding is a special lad, a beautiful guy. He is all good; he doesn't have a bad bone in his body.

"He wants to win this title so bad. He is in a great place and I wish him all the best."

In the same way boxers collapse into each other's arms at the end and say, 'you are a great player'. That moment was very similar, regardless of whether it was a physical contest or not, it was the same mentality.

For all of the times when Ronnie O'Sullivan throws teddies out of the pram, players appreciate other great players. From Ding Junhui's perspective, getting to the final last year was a massive stepping stone. This is another part of the jigsaw puzzle and unlocks the World Championship a little further for him.

Ding has always been clinical in among the balls and he looks very strong in that department, but beating Liang Wenbo from behind, showing heart and determination, and now beating O'Sullivan, he has answered a lot of questions at the Crucible that he has not answered before.

It is a bit like a video game for Ding, he has beaten the boss but now has to go to the next level to face a bigger boss - Mark Selby.

Facing the world champion will be a bigger hurdle mentally and we cannot say how it will pan out. Selby has looked astonishing so far, if Ding beats him, then he has to play someone great in the final. He is only halfway through in sessions played.

Ding delight

Ding, last season's runner-up, is looking to become the first Asian player to lift the world title, and said he "played great".

"I kept my form from the first frame to the last frame and I put him under pressure," Ding said.

"I do not have a good record against him but every time I had a chance I did well. He was not in his best form but he is still good enough.

"Ronnie said I looked a different player and I looked stronger. I thank him. To beat him you have to work hard. I am more confident."

Ronnie repelled

A spirited O'Sullivan comeback before the mid-session break kept alive hopes of him claiming a sixth World Championship title.

The Englishman had won a crucial final frame on Tuesday with a blistering century inside four minutes and, after taking scrappy opener, a rapid break of 97 made it three in a row to cut the gap to 10-8.

But Ding, who has often been accused of crumbling under pressure, responded with a fine 69.

O'Sullivan was in full flow, turning down the chance of a maximum by going for a pink rather than a slightly trickier black during a magnificent 146.

Only Mark Allen and Graeme Dott have ever managed a 146 at the Crucible but neither did so in the seven minutes and 32 seconds it took O'Sullivan to clear up and reduce the gap to two frames.

But Ding, 30, kept his opponent at bay in the closing stages with breaks of 87, 63 and 117 to win two of the final three frames and get over the line.

Barry Hawkins beat Stephen Maguire 13-9 to reach the last four, having made breaks of 126, 98 and 86 in the match. The 2013 finalist faces four-time champion John Higgins next.

Maria Sharapova won on her return to action after a 15-month doping ban as she beat Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Stuttgart Open.

 

 

The Russian, who was suspended last March after testing positive for meldonium, beat the Italian 7-5 6-3.

There was no noticeable bad reception for the 30-year-old, who responded well to losing her first service game to take a tight opening set in Stuttgart.

She broke twice in the second to progress to face Ekaterina Makarova.

Sharapova, who hit 11 aces and 39 winners, said: "I've been waiting for this for a long time.

"It's the best feeling in the world, those first few seconds before you enter the arena. To know you were walking back out there was special.

"I spent a long time without hitting any balls. I didn't know when I would be back. I went to school for a little bit, I grew my business and had a normal life. I put the racquet away for a little bit.

"I felt I had to grow as a person and I think I've done that. But this is what I've done for so long. I'm a competitor - that's when I'm at my best."

'I would play in the juniors if I had to'

The decision to give five-time Grand Slam winner Sharapova a wildcard entry for this event, as well as upcoming tournaments in Madrid and Rome, has been questioned by a number of players, including her Italian first-round opponent.

However, it has been defended by WTA chief Steve Simon, who said it was in keeping with how former dopers were treated in other sports, adding that she was "starting at ground zero".

The former world number one will find out on 16 May if she has been given a wildcard for the French Open, which starts on 28 May.

After Wednesday's victory, the Russian told BBC Sport that she would "play in the juniors" if she had to, to compete at the French Open and Wimbledon in July.

"I think everyone in this room knows what a competitor I am and I don't take anything for granted, and if I get the opportunity to be in a draw then I will take it," she added.

"I'm being offered wildcards from the tournament directors and I'm accepting them to be able to compete in the draw.

"I'm coming with no ranking and I'm not getting a wildcard to receive a trophy or a golden platter. I have to get through the matches and I still have to win them and that's my job."

Sharapova capitalises on controversial wildcard

Wednesday's match was a positive start to the process of rebuilding her world ranking points against the woman 34th in the world.

She was understandably rusty but brushed off a nervous start to break Vinci at the first opportunity after losing her first service game, showing ominous signs with a string of big winners.

Vinci was then taken to deuce in every subsequent service game until the pressure finally told, with Sharapova taking a 6-5 lead and then serving out the first set.

Sharapova started the second set with another break of serve to win her fourth game in a row and leave Vinci reeling.

The Italian held on to take the set to 4-3 but ultimately the Russian's superiority showed with a break to love and an easily won final service game.

Real Madrid kept their La Liga title challenge on track with an emphatic victory over Deportivo la Coruna.

 

 

Zinedine Zidane's side are level on points with Barcelona but have a game in hand and will claim the title if they win all their remaining matches.

With Cristiano Ronaldo rested and Gareth Bale injured, Alvaro Morata struck after 54 seconds.

Despite brief hope of a Depor revival at 2-1, Los Blancos replied to Barca's earlier 7-1 win over Osasuna in style.

A double from James Rodriguez - his first a clever flick over the goalkeeper - and further goals from Lucas Vazquez, Isco and Casemiro ensured Florin Andone and Joselu's strikes for the home side were purely consolation.

Sergio Ramos was also unavailable - through suspension following his red card in Sunday's 3-2 home defeat by Barca - as Madrid made nine changes.

But they were far from struggling for fluency in the absence of key players as Depor, 16th in the table and seven points clear of relegation, were brushed aside.

Next up for Madrid is a home league match against Valencia on Saturday, before their Champions League semi-final first leg at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Some 2,000 people took part in the Larian Kebangsaan or National Run 2017 which took place in the capital yesterday. The event was organised by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports with the cooperation of the Brunei Darussalam Athletics Association, in commemoration of the 33rd Brunei Darussalam National Day Anniversary Celebration.

Briton Anthony Joshua says "Father Time has caught up with Wladimir Klitschko" as the two prepare for Saturday's heavyweight world title bout.