Ronnie’s run in the China Open 2018 came to an end in the second round, last 64, at the hands of Elliot Slessor, who had also knocked him out of the Northern Ireland Open earlier this season. Elliot played very well, in all departments… and Ronnie was very poor, his concentration was at a sub-zero level, particularly before the MSI – Elliot was 4-0 up at the MSI. It was so bad that at a point a distracted Ronnie played a red … after potting a red. That was embarrassing! After the MSI, Ronnie was a bit more “alive” and seemed to have decided to try to make something happen by going for everything. He managed to win 2 frames… the final score was 6-2 to Elliot Slessor.
Here is the report on Wordlsnooker (excerpt):
Despite making the 14th maximum break of his career in the fifth frame, world number two O’Sullivan lost to a player ranked 71 places below him. Slessor goes through to the last 32 in Beijing to face Tom Ford.
O’Sullivan has had one of the best seasons of his career so far, winning five of the 11 ranking events he has contested. Other than John Higgins, Slessor is the only player to beat him twice in those events, having also knocked him out of the Northern Ireland Open in November.
Today’s 147 will earn O’Sullivan £42,000 if the break is not matched this week, which would bring his tally of prize money this season to £845,500. With just the Betfred World Championship to come, he will need to reach the final at the Crucible to become the first player ever to earn £1 million in a single season.
He trailed 4-0 today when he compiled the 147. Slessor then made it 5-1, and although O’Sullivan stole the seventh frame with a 35 clearance, he was soon heading for the exit door. Slessor’s break of 64 put him in charge of frame eight and he sealed victory after his opponent had gone in-off while attempting to play safe on the last red.
“I love playing the top names in front of a crowd, that’s what I practise for,” said 23-year-old Slessor. “I don’t feel intimidated by them because I know if I play my best, I can compete. I knew Ronnie would come back at me after the interval so I just had to make the most of my chances.”
O’Sullivan said: “Elliot played a fantastic match, he kept potting balls and there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. The 147 was nice for me and nice for the fans. Obviously I would have preferred to win the match, but a 147 is a good second prize.”
But in the middle of that disaster, there was a diamond: Ronnie made a 147, his 14th in competition.
I honestly think that Ronnie was embarrassed about such a poor performance and extremely happy to at least give the fans something to cheer on. After the match he tweeted:
Thanks to all the fans in China for your support, I always enjoy coming here! Nice to get a 147 in the match #14
That maximum break earned him £42000 (if nobody else makes one in the tournament) and a cuddle from Peggy Li, the referee!
Here are some images of the match, shared by worldsnooker and on weibo
It’s hard to know exactly why Ronnie’s form was so terrible today, maybe he was still heavily jet-lagged, maybe it was just a bad day, maybe, with the Crucible in sight and his n°2 seeding certain, his motivation wasn’t as high as it should have been or maybe … he ate a bit too much and had a bit too much fun ?
Indeed he shared this on weibo before the match:
Had lunch at one of my favourite restaurants in Beijing called Bai Jia Da Yuan. Already getting to see the beautiful places and meeting the lovely people of China. Looking forward to my match tonight! #ChinaOpen
Whatever, hopefully, he will now go back home, get well rested and be able to prepare himself for the World Championship. This defeat may in fact be a blessing in disguise.