Ronnie beat Hossein Vafaei by 4-1 to book his place in the quarter-finals of the 2021 World Grand Prix. These are the scores:
Ronnie O’Sullivan secured a quarter-final place with a 4-1 win over Hossein Vafaei. The match started with three fragmented frames, O’Sullivan taking a 2-1 lead before stepping up the pace to win the last two with breaks of 107 and 81.
However, O’Sullivan was concerned by his own performance. “That was as bad as it’s ever been, the first three frames. If he’d have played better he would have beaten me 4-0,” said the six-time World Champion. “I’m into the next round, that’s about all I can say.
“I’ve always played off the fans, fed off the fans, I get a bounce in my step, that’s the enjoyment I get from it. There’s no enjoyment stinking gaffs out like that, that was horrendous. If someone plays alright against me, they’ll put me away.
“It shows in my results. Usually I win a lot of tournaments, now it’s quarters and semis. I’m obviously not as good as I was and I accept that, there’s only so much juice to be squeezed out of a lemon, I think I’ve done pretty well. I can still do it in practice, just not so much in matches these days.”
O’Sullivan’s next opponent will be Jimmy Robertson, who ended Luca Brecel’s hot streak with a 4-3 victory.
The Rocket struggled to get going against the Iranian, who was also not great, but the six-time world champion eventually clicked into gear and powered to victory with breaks of 107 and 81 in the last two frames.
However, his mind was still on the first three frames at the end of the match and he feels like that level of performance means he is nearing the end of his record-breaking career.
‘That was as bad as it’s ever been, the first three frames. If he’d have played alright it would have been 4-0, done and dusted,’ O’Sullivan told ITV4. ‘I’m into the next round, that’s about all I can say.
‘If I was to play like that, you have to be honest with yourself, I’m not going to get any better now, I know when to throw it in because I didn’t enjoy that.
‘I’ve always played off the fans, fed off the fans, I get a bounce in my step, that’s the enjoyment I get from it. There’s no enjoyment stinking gaffs out like that, that was horrendous.
‘I know I got through, but for my own pleasure. I now know the reasons I’ve kept playing, because when you’re buzzing and bouncing round the table, I feed off the energy of the crowd.
‘But today they didn’t get nothing. I didn’t enjoy it, I don’t think they enjoyed it.’
‘I’ll allow myself to stink places out for another three years. I think I’ve earned the right to smell a few places out,’ he said.
‘Then if it doesn’t get any better, which I can’t imagine it will, it’s probably time to hang the cue up, get on the exhibition circuit, have a few pints of Guinness.
‘You can’t play like that, I can’t anyway. There’s just no fun in it for me. If someone plays alright against me, they’ll put me away.
‘It shows in my results. Normally I win a lot of tournaments, now it’s quarters, semis. I’m obviously not as good as I was and I accept that, there’s only so much juice to be squeezed out of a lemon, I think I’ve done pretty well.
‘I now know why I’ve played so long, I was getting a kick off the rapport with the fans and the energy that I feed off, but there was no feeding coming off there.
‘I felt embarrassed, I felt sad for them that they’d come all the way to watch that.
‘I can still do it in practice, just not so much in matches these days.’
What do we make of this? …
- First of all, yes, at 46 it is to be expected that a snooker player would be past their very best and every individual will try to cope with that natural decline in their own way.
- Ronnie was in high spirit after his first match, where he certainly didn’t play better than yesterday, quite the opposite. He was down on himself after his match yesterday. Why? We can’t be sure but he has suffered violent mood swings all his adult life, and this may be one of those. He copes with them better than before since working with Steve Peters but that doesn’t mean they don’t affect him.
- Either the crowd has been scarse this week so far, or the arena is too big. On television/stream at least my perception has been that there is not much atmosphere in there, no matter what match I watched. Ronnie is one of those players who feeds on the crowd; if the perception is the same “live” in the arena than it is on television, then it explains his comments but it isn’t related to his performance. Luca Brecel is the same, he feeds on the crowd and he had no spark yesterday.
- The “policy” this week has been not to ask for proof of vaccination or negative covid tests, but to make wearing masks in the arena mandatory at all times. Although this isn’t very strictly enforced, it doesn’t make for great viewing, masking (literally) the fans’ facial expression and reactions to the shots. I’m not sure why this change of policy was decided, and not convinced it’s the best decision either when it comes to protecting the fans’ health, but it definitely doesn’t help the event’s “mood”.
For the record I’m not “anti-mask”, I know that they help when it comes to limiting contagion, which is all important. They just don’t help the atmosphere …
Anyway, Ronnie is in the next round with a chance to improve…
Here is the last frame of the match
Not THAT bad he?