Mark Allen beats Reanne Evans in battle of the exes after snubbed fist bump

Mark Allen survived a scare to come out on top in the match against his ex Reanne Evans, but both players said after the contest that it wasn’t the draw that they wanted

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Mark Allen recovered from an early deficit to his former partner Reanne Evans to win his first round match at snooker’s British Open.

The match got off to a contentious start when Evans awkwardly refused a fist bump from her competitor before the first frame.

It was the first time the two had met in professional competition.

Evans had taken a 2-1 lead in frames after Allen struggled with consistency and she led 60-22 in the fourth, looking on course to cause a dramatic shock in Leicester where she was cheered on raucously.

Northern Irishman Evans somehow recovered with a 47 clearance, before making a break of 68 in the deciding frame.

Mark Allen won the contest against his ex-partner Reanne Evans at the British Open despite her ignoring his fist bump before the match

Speaking after the match, Allen was full of praise for his ex-partner’s performance, admitting that Evans could easily have won the duel.

He dodged answering any questions about the uncomfortable moment before the match and stated that he would rather never be in that situation again.

The 35-year-old said: “It was horrible, and not something I really want to be doing again. I tried to stay professional and I think I did that and can hold my head up high.

“Reanne played really well for two and a half frames. I’d rather not answer any questions about her refusing the fist-bump.

“I just wanted to get through this match for obvious reasons, but overall my form is good and hopefully I can take that on now.

“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.”

Evans, who is a 12-time women’s world snooker champion, was equally coy about the decision to not greet Allen’s gesture of goodwill, and rued missing chances in the final two frames.

She said: “I was told at the start no handshakes or anything because of Covid, so I was visualising starting the match and just went straight to the table.

“No one wanted that match but you have to accept it, it’s sport and these things are going to happen.

Both Mark Allen and Reanne Evans said they never wanted to compete against each other again after the tense affair

“I am sick of losing these deciders. I couldn’t feel my arms or my legs by the end, with all the nerves and tension. I did settle a bit after the first frame and fancied the job.”

Just four months ago Allen reportedly asked that Evans not be part of the TV team at the World Championship, and later took a break from snooker to help recover from personal issues.

Stephen Hendry, who was working as a pundit for ITV, said the pair deserved praise for how they handled an extremely sensitive situation.

The seven-time world champion said: “Both players have shown great character. It’s been the most intense match I have probably ever witnessed.”

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

The British Open returned for the first time since 2004 in dramatic style.

Defending champion John Higgins, who beat Stephen Maguire in the final that year, made a remarkable 147 break in his very first frame.

That was his 12th maximum, a feat which takes him into second place all-time for recorded 147s behind only Ronnie O’Sullivan.

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