Mark Allen admits grudge match with ex Reanne Evans was ‘horrible’

Mark Allen admits grudge match with ex Reanne Evans was ‘horrible’
Evans rejected her ex-boyfriend’s offer of a pre-match fist bump in a tense match that Allen came from behind to win 3-2

Mark Allen edged out former partner Reanne Evans 3-2 to win the grudge-match battle of the exes at the British Open.

The world number 10 clung on despite a nervy performance to edge out his ex-partner Evans, the 12-time women’s world champion.

The 35-year-old’s deciding-frame 68 sealed his place in the second round in Leicester.

A palpably relieved Allen insisted he could be proud of his conduct on a tense and niggly evening.

“It was horrible, it’s not something I want to really go through too often, but we had to try and remain as professional as possible and I think I did that very well,” he said. “I think I can hold my head very high with the way I handled it out there.”

Evans and Allen split acrimoniously in 2008, and world number 10 Allen has previously been critical of women joining the professional World Snooker Tour.

Allen also asked for Evans to be removed from a TV studio next to his practice table at the World Championships in April, claiming her presence was a distraction.

With no love lost between the two, Evans then ratcheted up the tension by snubbing Allen’s offer of a pre-match fist bump, leaving her former love interest hanging in an awkward opening moment.

Reanne Evans has been a trailblazer in the sport (Tim Goode/PA)

Quizzed about the fist-bump snub, Allen would only say: “I’d rather not answer that one.

“I didn’t play my best but I thought I treated it like any other match, I showed respect where respect was due.

“I thought Reanne played really, really well the first three-and-a-half frames and was just unfortunate with a cannon not to go on and win 3-1. But I just hung in there and then made a one-visit in the last.”

Allen settled the faster and claimed the opening frame after a scrappy start from both competitors.

The Belfast native missed several chances to move two frames ahead, however, and Evans pounced on the chance to level the match.

It was horrible, it’s not something I want to really go through too often, but we had to try and remain as professional as possible

Mark Allen

Evans then had to tell her vociferous supporters to calm down as the tension continued to mount at the Morningside Arena.

Breaks of 49 and 56 then proved enough for Evans to move into a 2-1 lead and heap the pressure on an increasingly nervy Allen.

Evans inched towards victory in the fourth frame only to pull up with a 60 break.

Allen sportingly tapped the table in appreciation of that break but despite several fine shots could only muster 20 in response.

Evans spurned the opportunity to close out the frame and victory, however, and Allen pounced with a 47 break to edge the frame 67-66 and take the match into a decider.

Allen did not even attempt the customary fist bump before the decider but when the action resumed he instead wrapped up victory thanks to his 68 break.

Evans attempted to downplay rejecting Allen’s attempted fist bump, saying: “I was told at the start there were no handshakes or anything, and just in my head I was visualising the start of the match so I just went straight to the table.

“I’m proud I’m competing, it’s just a little bit of experience and hopefully in a few more matches I might get that win.

“No one wanted that match did they? But you have to respect that top players do what they do and it’s sport, we’re in the same sport so it’s always going to happen.”

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