O’Sullivan in strange Welsh Open incident which wasn’t ‘fair’ on fans

Ronnie O'Sullivan tells Laila to ‘stop taking pictures’

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Four-time Welsh Open champion Ronnie O’Sullivan almost saw his bid for a record-tying fifth title come to a premature end after his cue tip flew off twice during a first-round win over Ross Muir. Seven years on from his most recent Welsh crown, ‘The Rocket’ has a chance to equal John Higgins’ record haul if he emerges as champion in Llandudno this week.

O’Sullivan came close to giving up a frame—not to mention the match—after he was forced to leave the arena twice to have his tip re-applied by event director Paul Collier. Snooker’s world No. 1 was thankful to see his cue remain intact for the remainder of a narrow 4-3 win and tee up a second-round showdown against Rod Lawler.

But even after overcoming his cue concerns, O’Sullivan admitted the fear of seeing his tip fly off again played on his mind for the duration. Despite violating the three-miss rule to see Muir draw level at 3-3, the 47-year-old was able to see out the victory to keep his Welsh Open dream alive.

“It was unbelievable,” said O’Sullivan after a hard-fought victory. “I don’t know [where] the tip is. I think it is great, but it just keeps falling off. Every time after the second time I played a shot I was just thinking, ‘Is it going to fall off?’ And that is very hard, because you have got no trust.

“I said afterwards to someone if this keeps happening I am going to have to pull out, I can’t keep having to go out of the arena every five or six shots. It’s not fair on your opponent, or the crowd, or anyone. Somehow it stayed on after that but we’ll just have to see. That has never happened to me before.”

The anxiety isn’t yet over for the seven-time world champion, who admitted he’s already worried it “might come off in the next match.” It’s enough to play an elite competition and all the pressure that brings without having to worry if one’s cue will stay in one piece.

That being said, O’Sullivan could even take it as a confidence boost that he’s able to encounter such struggles and still come out on the winning side. His foul on pink saw the white fly from the table as Muir levelled in the sixth set, but The Rocket took it in stride as a lesson about resilience.

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“Maybe instead of hitting [the white] at 200mph I should have just hit it at 170mph,” the second seed continued. “It is not all about talent, it is also about resilience and mindset. I have just written a book about resilience! And it is very important, I never realised how much.

“I have worked a lot more on that over the last 10 years and I can draw it from within and won tournaments not playing my best because I am a very determined person. You get a lot of different things thrown at you, and you have to deal with them.”

Only a bad workman blames his tools, after all, and O’Sullivan isn’t about to start now. A new ferrule might be on the menu ahead of Wednesday’s evening encounter against ‘Rod the Plod’, however, lest he risks a repeat of his first-round tip terror.

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