Ronnie O’Sullivan avoided a shock exit on day one of the 19.com English Open in Crawley as he came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat former tiler Jamie O’Neill 4-3.
World number 105 O’Neill had a golden chance to register his biggest career win in the sixth frame until he accidentally fouled on 33. O’Sullivan, ranked 103 places higher, punished him to progress to the last 64 at K2 Crawley. He’ll be back in action on Wednesday – tickets are still available – click here for details.
O’Neill, who had been working on roofs for the past five years before regaining his pro status at Q School last May, coped well with the dizzy heights of the televised table in the early stages tonight, winning the opening frame with a break of 114, then dominating the second.
Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan hit back with runs of 90 and 102 for 2-2 then O’Neill made a 59 as he regained the lead in the fifth. In the next he was 33-0 ahead when he accidentally grazed a red he was cueing over. O’Sullivan replied with 54 then got the better of a safety battle on the last red and capitalised for 3-3.
O’Neill had two further chances in the decider but could only muster 15 points and had to watch as his opponent rattled off 81 to seal victory.
Here is Ronnie’s postmatch:
And couple more pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe
Ronnie is right in saying that the top player is on a hiding to nothing in those matches. They have all expectations on them, and their opponents usually can just play with freedom and enjoy the occasion. We saw it in other matches yesterday too as many top seeds struggled to win or actually lost like Ding Junhui, Yan Bingtao, Ali Carter and Anthony McGill. The very short format doesn’t help the best players either: yesterday Ronnie was 2-0 dow; in a best of seven, without interval, that a very perilous situation.
Inevitably, when Ronnie is struggling, there are people on social media who immediately claim that he isn’t bothered. It’s stupid and it’s unfair. If he hadn’t been bothered yesterday, he would have lost. It’s that simple. It’s unfair on Ronnie – or on any top player in the same situation – because they are human and form is not a tap they can turn at will. It’s unfair on their opponent, because they are pros or top amateurs and most of them can play. Jamie O’Neill never really made it as a pro, although he has been on and off the tour since 2003, but he has won two big titles as an amateur: the 2003 Under-19 European Championship and the 2006 English Open. He came back on the tour last May, via the Challenge Tour Event 1. He played very well yesterday. Presenting him only as a “former tiler” is reductive and a bit misleading as for most of his adult life he’s been a professional snooker player.
Also lets hope that the bad neck issue is solved asap.