Ronnie beat Matthew Stevens by 6-2 yesterday afternoon to book his place in the last 16 round at the 2022 UK Championship. He will play Zhou Yuelong next. Ronnie wasn’t at his absolute best, but it was obvious that he has been practising as his long potting was excellent. Before the match, the ES pundits mentioned that he had spent long hours on the table the previous day.
Here are the scores:
‘Happy’ Rocket Strolls Into Second Round
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s bid for an eighth Cazoo UK Championship title started strongly as he made two centuries and three more breaks over 70 during a 6-2 victory over Matthew Stevens in the first round in York.
Zhao Xintong, Neil Robertson and John Higgins were all knocked out during the first weekend at the Barbican, suggesting that the seeds are vulnerable against the 16 players who came through the qualifying rounds. But world number one O’Sullivan never looked in danger as he strolled into the last 16 and a match against Zhou Yuelong, who edged out Yan Bingtao 6-5. That tie will take place on Wednesday at 1pm.
O’Sullivan, who has now won 19 of his 25 career matches against Stevens, has carried on his momentum this season having landed the World Championship last May. He beat Marco Fu in the final of the Hong Kong Masters last month, and collected more silverware nine days ago with victory over Judd Trump in the Cazoo Champion of Champions final.
The Rocket lifted the UK Championship trophy in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2014, 2017 and 2018. The £250,000 top prize this week would make him the first player to win a Triple Crown event on eight occasions.
The 46-year-old took the opening frame today with a break of 81 and might have added the second, but missed the penultimate red to a centre pocket when he trailed 35-37, allowing Stevens to level. Runs of 94 and 107 put O’Sullivan 3-1 ahead at the interval.
Frame five was a scrappy one and came down to a safety exchange with three reds left, resolved when O’Sullivan, down 53-15, failed to convert a long pot to a baulk corner. His opponent took advantage to halve the gap, but Stevens scored just two points in the last three frames as O’Sullivan compiled runs of 73 and 102, reaching the last 16 of this event for the 22nd time.
“As long as the fans are happy, then we’re all good,” said O’Sullivan. “If I got beat 6-0, never potted a ball, they’d have still been happy. So, I’m not really concerned about it. I’m very happy with where I am, everything’s great. I come here, play, hit balls. If I get smashed first round like I did against Alex Ursenbacher or David Grace, it really doesn’t matter to me. It actually was a really pleasant surprise, I was able to get home a bit early, do a bit of Eurosport. If I want to be in the business of snooker, I’ve got to pot a few balls.”
Welshman Stevens said: “If you miss one or two against Ronnie then the frames are over in six or seven minutes. He’s just relentless. He’s something else. I’m obviously disappointed when I lose but it would have taken something special to beat him. I had a new tip on a couple of weeks ago and it’s not a hundred percent, I played a couple of shots with side and missed them thick.”
The “happy” mentioned by WST isn’t exactly the mood that transpired through interviews ahead of the event. Here reported by The Guardian:
Ronnie O’Sullivan battles ‘impostor syndrome’ despite first-round win
The world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan eased into the last 16 of the UK Championship with a 6-2 win over Matthew Stevens but then admitted to feeling “impostor syndrome” and not wanting to play snooker at the moment.
The 46-year-old looked in good form at York Barbican and hit two century breaks to take a step towards claiming a record eighth title.
While O’Sullivan clinched a record-equalling seventh world crown in May and backed it up with victory at the Hong Kong Masters in front of 9,000 fans last month, he revealed his flatness after a routine round-one success on Monday.
“I feel flat, I’ll be honest with you,” he told BBC Two. “I don’t really want to play snooker at the moment, I don’t play much snooker. I just listen to my body, listen to my mind and just go out there and treat it like a practice.
“One thing I am doing is applying myself mentally. Whether I play good or bad, I don’t really care and I will always apply myself well while I am out there, but I don’t feel buzzed up at the moment. I suppose that is normal. I am just here enjoying York. I am going to be here for the duration, no matter what. I just like it here, you know.”
The world No 1 rejected suggestions in the summer he was the greatest in the sport’s history after his Crucible triumph. And he again raised questions about how long he will continue to play snooker following this win over Stevens, who after taking the fifth frame to reduce the deficit to 3-2 had no answer.
O’Sullivan added: “I shouldn’t even be playing at my age really, by rights. Look at [Stephen] Hendry, [Steve] Davis and those guys, so I don’t take it too seriously and just find it quite funny I am still here. I feel like I have a bit of impostor syndrome.
“I felt happier when I lost them five finals because it felt right but when I’ve started to win a few tournaments, I don’t really feel like I deserve it or that I have played well enough. It feels like there has been a plot maybe to allow me to do it, so you feel like a bit of a fake.
“I feel a bit not good about it, so that is why when I won the worlds I was saying it wasn’t really a great thing for me because it put me in that place again of questioning myself and the game. I don’t get excited like I used to. I am here to do a job.”
I know that it feels strange to most that Ronnie, having won so much, isn’t the most confident person, but that’s the reality and that’s probably why he’s such a perfectionist, because he always feels that he should/could have done better.
Ronnie will now face Zhou Yuelong tomorrow afternoon.
Yesterday’s win puts Ronnie on 34th place in the “race to the World Grand Prix”, only 500 points behind Wu Yize who is 32d. A win over Zhou would secure his spot in the event. But it won’t be an easy match as Zhou is playing extremely well.
Here are some more images shared on social media by WST and Matt Huart.
And those two videos shared by WST on their YouTube channel:
2 thoughts on “The 2022 UK Championship – Ronnie beats Matthew Stevens in the last 32 Round”
I didn’t expect Matthew Stevens to pose any threat at all to Ronnie, so I watched the Yan-Zhou match. Both players were excellent: the safetly was extremely tight, they scored heavily, but missed two or three pots which cost them frames. Yan stole several frames with Higgins-like counter-clearances, and should have won in the final frame but missed a mid-distance red. Like Stevens, Zhou will probably be in awe of Ronnie so won’t play his best.
Yesterday’s longpotting was lovely. I do understand what he says about imposter syndrome, lol at least he is not cocky like some others. But no, fans would not be happy if he lost 6-0 without potting a ball. There was an interview on Eurosport where he said he was told (didn’t get by whom) to go out, be professional and that’s what he will do, no bashing of the balls. That is good, I think.
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