Mark Allen defeats former partner Reanne Evans at British Open

Mark Allen and Reanne Evans
Mark Allen, 12th in the men’s rankings, overcame 12-time women’s world champion Reanne Evans

Mark Allen defeated former partner Reanne Evans 3-2 after surviving a major scare in the British Open.

The Northern Irishman was facing defeat at 60-22 down in the fourth frame before fighting back in a tense clash.

Evans, backed by a raucous following, did not reciprocate when Allen offered a fist bump before the first-round match in Leicester.

The pair were meeting for the first time as professionals and in a ranking tournament.

“Both players have shown great character. It’s been the most intense match I have probably ever witnessed,” said seven-time men’s world snooker champion Stephen Hendry, commentating on ITV.

Allen described the draw as “awful” and said he would not want to face Evans again, but acknowledged the performance of his beaten opponent.

“She played much better than me but I made a good break to win it. She potted some unbelievable individual balls. She was very unfortunate not to go on and win 3-1,” said the 35-year-old.

Despite the edgy opening, Evans apologised for a fluked pot during the match and Allen tapped the table to acknowledge a break from his opponent.

Evans, 35, had saluted her vocal supporters as she came out for the game and went 34 ahead in the opening frame before a missed black let her opponent in.

The English player won a scrappy second frame after Allen failed to pot the yellow when needing the colours and a 56 break helped seal the next.

A shock victory looked on the cards before Evans rattled a tricky red in the jaws of the pocket and Allen clinched the fourth frame with a nerveless 47 clearance.

He followed up with a 68 break in the decider to help seal victory.

“I’m absolutely gutted but really proud of myself,” said Evans. “Top players do what they do and you have to respect that.”

Evans, who was made an MBE in 2020 for her services to women’s snooker, has earned a two-year tour card this season to turn professional.

The match came four months after Allen requested that Evans be removed from a television studio at the World Championship, where she was working as a BBC pundit.

Allen was reported to have said he did not want her to be in a TV studio where a practice table was situated.

In April, the Northern Irishman said he was taking a “break” from the game to address personal issues.

Earlier on a dramatic opening day, Scotland’s John Higgins made the 12th maximum 147 break of his career, to surpass Hendry’s total, as he beat Alexander Ursenbacher of Switzerland 3-1.

World number one Judd Trump just edged past Mitchell Mann 3-2 while veteran Jimmy White whitewashed Aaron Hill 3-0 and Allen’s compatriot Jordan Brown beat Andrew Higginson 3-2.

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