Ronnie O'Sullivan through in Welsh Open, Higgins crashes out

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan's victory in Germany was his first ranking title since September 2009

Ronnie O'Sullivan reached the last 16 of the Welsh Open with a 4-1 win over Marco Fu to secure his place at April's World Championship.

Victory ensured O'Sullivan's place in the top 16 of the World Rankings and a place in Crucible first round draw.

But world champion John Higgins paid the price for a missed pink in the sixth frame as he was dumped out of the second round by Ding Junhui.

Shaun Murphy brushed aside off-colour Steve Davis in a 4-0 last-16 win.

Matthew Stevens beat first-round opponent Barry Hawkins 4-3 earlier on Wednesday to set up a meeting with Stephen Maguire, who beat Adam Wicheard 4-2.

Mark Allen also progressed into the second round with a 4-0 win over Ken Doherty.

If he had fallen out of the top 16 for the first time since his teens, O'Sullivan, who won the German Masters at the start of this month, would have been forced to qualify for the showpiece tournament in Sheffield.

But the 36-year-old showed good form from the start against Fu, with breaks of 52 and 88 helping secure the first two frames.

He failed to pot a black from its spot before losing the third frame but wrapped up a 4-1 win with a superb 102 break.

"I was a bit nervous today because after winning the last tournament I didn't want to go out in the first round," said O'Sullivan.

"So it was good to get my hand on the table and pot some balls early on."

Defending champion Higgins appeared poised for a 4-2 victory against Ding but he missed a pink off the rest to allow his opponent to tie at 3-3.

And a break of 86 sealed the win for Ding, who set up a meeting with either Stephen Lee or Tom Ford in the last eight.

Stevens was pushed all the way by Hawkins despite going 2-1 up with an impressive 141, the highest break at the tournament.

Hawkins fought back, with breaks of 71 and 123 helping him to the next two frames, but Stevens drew level once again and secured victory in the final frame.

He will now face Maguire, whose win over Wicheard included back-to-back centuries of 101 and 131.

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