Ronnie O’Sullivan could once more be in trouble at the Northern Ireland Open. “match practice”After being knocked out,
The Rocket lost 4-3 against Yan Bingtao, the Masters champion in Belfast, despite having twice held a lead in tie.
The 21-year old Chinese snooker player was the one to hold his nerve during a decider to knock the six-time world champion from the competition.
O’Sullivan was blunt in his post-match interview. He didn’t cry about spilt milk.
Instead, he used the occasion to let everyone know that he didn’t care about these Home Nation events.
“These tournaments are very very minor, they’re like match practice really,”He said. “The three major events that are most important are the Masters, Worlds and the UK.
“These best of sevens are just like pro-ams, like we used to play when we were amateurs.
“York, obviously, is the Masters. You could probably chuck a few of the Chinese events in there now as they’re quite prestigious tournaments. But otherwise, if you look at the calendar, they’re not the greatest tournaments.”
Ronnie continued: “What are these tournaments? Home Nations, and one world title, I’d take one world title.
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“Obviously that’s a proper event. This is just a bit of match practice. No-one is going to remember you for winning a Home Nations, are they?
“Speaking from everybody else I get why they’re excited about them events. If I was Yan Bingtao I’d be super excited about it. It has been a journey of sweat, blood, and tears that has filled my heart. I’m happy just to come and hit a few balls.”
His comments come as stark contrast to those of four-time world snooker champion Mark Selby. After being stunned by Dave Gilbert, he took to Twitter to reflect on his time in Belfast.
“This week I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Belfast. It is a wonderful city and so full of lovely people.” he wrote. “This week, Dave Gilbert is the better player. He’ll win it, great lad.”
It’s not the first time O’Sullivan has been critical of the Northern Ireland Open this week.
After winning his opener against Andy Hicks, the Englishman said: “I kind of struggled with the table and I struggled with the atmosphere – there was really no atmosphere out there.”
He later clarified that he was referring to the layout of the venue rather than calling out the fans, who he credited for “Always with me”.
But that won’t have done his relationship with tournament organisers any favourites – and neither will comparing the ranking competition to a pro-am event.