Ronnie’s title defense came to an end in the first round at the hands of Marco Fu. It is the first time since the World Grand Prix 2016 that Ronnie loses in the first round of a ranking event; that time he was beaten by Michael Holt by 4-3.
Ronnie actually started well, winning the first frame with a 51 and a 68. But from then on things turned. Marco Fu won a scrappy second frame after Ronnie missed mid-long blue early on. Ronnie was first in the next, made 47, missed a difficult red, and Marco made a 61 to win the frame from there. Marco knocked a long red in to start a 52 break in the next, lost position, missed a difficult cut back black, and Ronnie made an excellent 77 to level the match. Marco Fu was first in the next frame again, made 66, and missed the frame ball blue. Ronnie needed blacks with all remaining reds, managed it – it was far from easy – only to inexplicably miss the simple yellow. He conceded as soon as Marco potted it. In the next frame, that proved to be the last, Ronnie went in-off playing a safety shot, Marco slotted in a long red, made 47, missed a slightly difficult red but left nothing. After a short safety exchange, Ronnie decided to go for a red in the left corner, missed it, scattered everything open, and failed to return to baulk. That was the end: Marco added a 44 to his previous 47 to seal the match. It’s hard to know if Ronnie played that as a shot to nothing that went wrong or if it was frustration and annoyance at himself for what happened in the previous frame, but it was certainly a risky shot to take. Somehow it was similar to the double he took against Kyren Wilson during the Champion of Champions Final, only this time he didn’t get away with it…
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Marco Fu did actually play very well, as the ITV pundits rightly pointed out. Ronnie himself didn’t play badly, he looked sharp in the balls, but his concentration wasn’t the best and there were glimpses of the “pre-Peters” Ronnie … which is a bit worrying.
The match review
Apparently, Ronnie wasn’t interviewed.