Ronnie is through to the last 32 in Belfast after beating Mei Xiwen by 4-1, in a rather strange match.
The first frame was long and very scrappy and it was obvious that Ronnie’s concentration wasn’t there at all. He made countless mistakes and still managed to win it somehow. Mistakes continued in the second frame, and this time Mei punished him. That seemed to bring Ronnie’s focus back. In the third frame, after the most terrible break-off, Ronnie found something when Mei was unable to take advantage: the result was a well constructed 119. After that Ronnie played decent snooker and finished the match quite comfortably, despite playing at a madly fast pace and taking quite a number of risky shots.
After the match, he explained why he felt the need to play this way…
Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a display of aggressive snooker in his 4-1 win over Mei Xiwen on day three of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
The Rocket has already pledged to keep his shot-time down as low as possible this week on social media and he lived up to that promise today, averaging just 14.7 seconds per visit.
The match was characterised by O’Sullivan taking the attacking play at every opportunity. He also adopted an unorthodox breakoff style, trying to hit the opposite side of the pack between the blue and the pink. On one occasion that backfired with the Rocket catching the blue on the way down (watch here).
The attacking approach to the encounter paid off in terms of the result, with the five-time World Champion securing a comfortable victory, making breaks of 119 and 54 along the way.
“Seven matches in a tournament is like a marathon or an ironman,” said O’Sullivan. “The winning line is a long way away. I get interested at the last 16 stage or the quarter-finals. Until that comes I am just going to go for everything in sight, try to be creative and try to have fun. I shouldn’t really change my game no matter what. The aim is to have fun.”
Hopefully, as the tournament progresses, Ronnie will feel more motivated and focused.
Tomorrow, in the last 32, he will play Tom Ford. Tom is a dangerous player, but one who plays a fast and open game and that should suit Ronnie more than Mei’s methodical approach. Should he win, it will be either Michael Holt or Zhou Yuelong in the last 16.
Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great images