This is how Ronnie prepared for his first round match at this UK Championship: pies and mash …
And this is the result:
Before the match, Ronnie had a weird spree on twitter, about God and retiring from snooker, that got many of his fans worried. Knowing he’s no religious person I was a bit taken aback, but my reading of it is that this was his way to release some of the tension; I’ve seen him very anxious before tournaments and I believe this was his way to lower the pressure of expectations. Later, he was back to his usual self on twitter, discussing fitness, food and how to deal with a bad stomach (probably caused by stress rather than anything else, in my view)
In the press room Ronnie dismissed any thoughts of immediate retirement though.
The official report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):
Ronnie O’Sullivan took just 56 minutes to beat Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0 and reach the last 64 of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.It was a blistering display of attacking snooker from the Rocket as he fired breaks of 63, 129, 80, 90, 103 and 106. His victory took just three minutes more than his 53-minute 6-0 whitewash of Dominic Dale at the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy, the quickest ever best-of-11 match.
O’Sullivan has lifted the UK Championship trophy five times, most recently in 2014 in York, and if he carries tonight’s form into the televised stages he’ll take some stopping. He now meets Rhys Clark, who won a black-ball deciding frame to edge out Li Hang 6-5.
“I got three centuries in my last match and lost, so it just goes to show that centuries don’t mean anything,” said 40-year-old O’Sullivan, who won his first UK crown back in 1993. “I don’t really read too much into it, you just play one match at a time and see what happens.
“I played alright, I am just treating it a bit like a knockabout. I have other things in my life so snooker is a bit of a distraction and getting my cue out is a pleasure. When it was all I had to do, I felt like I was trapped in a prison, now it is a bit exciting. Trying to be too serious about what you do is harmful to you.”
This article in “the Guardian” (excerpt):
Ronnie O’Sullivan won 6-0 in the first round of the UK Championship at York but said ‘I have conversations with God and he said to me, “Jack snooker in mate, you’re better off as a pundit”’. Photograph: Nigel French/PA
Ronnie O’Sullivan said he no longer feels “trapped in a prison” and played down retirement talk after a dazzling 6-0 first-round win over Boonyarit Keattikun at the UK Championship in York on Wednesday.
The 40-year-old is looking for the 29th ranking title of his career and started in emphatic fashion, needing only 56 minutes to complete a whitewash victory over an overwhelmed Thai opponent.
The five-times UK champion made three centuries during the match and revealed he is enjoying having to juggle playing with his Eurosport punditry role.
O’Sullivan said: “This is like a bit of a hobby. Getting my cue out is a bit of a pleasure whereas before, when that’s all I had to do, I felt I was trapped in a prison. Now I feel like it’s a bit exciting and I treat it as a bit of fun.
“My proper job is my punditry and doing all my other bits – that’s my salary but this is a bit of a bonus now.”
Hours before the match, O’Sullivan tweeted that God told him to give up the sport, but the five-times world champion later had a positive response for his fans.
He said: “I have conversations with God and he said to me, ‘Jack snooker in mate, you’re better off as a pundit’ and I was like, ‘Hold on, we will have to have a proper conversation about that’.
“It’s not my last tournament until God puts his foot down, he is the boss and I don’t want to take liberties with him.”
O’Sullivan is no fan of the Barbican Centre’s four-table setup in York but was satisfied with his opening performance.
“I played all right, I wasn’t too sure what this guy was like – he looked good at the start but missed a couple of balls,” he said.
“It’s a bit of a weird setup so I’ll try not to get too serious about the tournament unless I can get to the two-table setup.”
And here is the match:
Ronnie played extremely well but clearly didn’t want to stay around more than necessary. Later he praised the good crowd, but also said there was no atmosphere in the Barbican, same as Judd Trump. Having been there, I understand what they mean. Before the television stage, the arena is rather dimly lit, the players “introduction” is minimal, and, in my opinion, the sponsor’s grey setup isn’t particularly “mood enhancing”.