2023 Welsh Open – Ronnie wins his last 16 match with a new tip

Ronnie beat Ben Mertens by 4-0 yesterday late evening to book his place in the 2023 Welsh Open Quarter-finals. Here are the numbers:

Ronnie was playing with a new tip, fitted by Les Dodd. Les is a Seniors player and well known and appreciated for his talent and ability when it comes to fixing cues/tips issues. He’s the man Ronnie trusts the most for that job. Of course Les had to travel to North Wales.

WST report on the match is minimal, but, fortunately Eurosport has it covered.

Here is their report on the match:


Tip problems have threatened to derail Ronnie O’Sullivan’s bid for a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open title, but there were no such issues as the Rocket whitewashed 18-year-old Ben Mertens to reach the quarter-finals. O’Sullivan faces John Higgins or Tian Pengfei next. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan remains on track for a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open title following a 4-0 whitewash victory over Ben Mertens to reach the quarter-finals.

It was a much more straightforward night for O’Sullivan after tip problems in the earlier rounds had threatened to derail his tournament.

With a new tip now in place, O’Sullivan hit two breaks of 55 and a break of 68 to seal a far more comfortable win than when he needed a deciding frame to beat Mertens in the English Open in December.

O’Sullivan will meet fellow Tian Pengfei for a place in the semi-final on Friday.

A half century put O’Sullivan in control of the opening frame, and a missed red to left corner from a nervy Mertens allowed the Rocket to finish the job.

Mertens – in his first year on the pro tour – had stunned Jackson Page and David Gilbert to make it this far but, certainly in the opening frames, he appeared overawed by the man he calls his hero, simply committing too many mistakes as O’Sullivan moved two frames clear.

Clearly struggling with the occasion, the 18-year-old had an opportunity to reduce the deficit in the third frame as O’Sullivan’s break ended at 55, only to pot the white after knocking in the pink. This time O’Sullivan would put the frame to bed to extend his lead to 3-0.

When these two met back in December, Mertens won three of the last four frames to force a decider, however, the fans in attendance at Llandudno were never likely to be treated to such a close finish. 

Another poor shot from the young Belgian left O’Sullivan with a simple pot and a final break of 68 wrapped up the match in under an hour.

The report on the match is quite minimalist but, truth to be said it wasn’t the most thrilling match. Ben looked overawed indeed and Ronnie was clearly playing on the cautious side, unsure about how his new tip would react.

Eurosport also reports on the postmatch interview:


Following some unwanted drama with his cue in the previous rounds of the Welsh Open, Ronnie O’Sullivan has got a new tip, and he was much happier with his performance as he whitewashed Ben Mertens 4-0 to reach the quarter-finals in Llandudno

Ronnie O’Sullivan says he is “enjoying the challenge” of playing with a new tip after he was forced to take action following some unwanted drama in the earlier rounds of the Welsh Open.

The 47-year-old looked much more comfortable on Thursday night as he claimed a 4-0 whitewash win over Ben Mertens to reach the quarter-finals after some tip problems had previously threatened to derail his tournament.

Although he was not at his best, O’Sullivan did make two 55 breaks and a break of 68 as he proved too strong for his young opponent.

It was a new tip, so I didn’t have the worry of it like coming off. So just got to get used to it a little bit, I suppose,” O’Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio afterwards.

I’m just trying not to think about how I play or anything. I’m just like, ‘how am I dealing with it?’. I know how I should be dealing with it and that’s what I’m just trying to do

I’m enjoying how I’m sort of processing it all. It’s good practise for me, I’m quite enjoying the challenge.”

Asked by Neal Foulds if he has to think about hitting the centre of the ball with the new tip, O’Sullivan responded: “I don’t know. I try not to think about it, to be honest with you.

I’m just trying to think about staying present. Just dealing with whatever I’ve got. Tip is great, tip is bad – there’s not a lot I can actually do about it.

I’d love to have an amazing tip, I’d love to have an amazing cue. I’d love my game to be perfect. But that’s not always the case. So I have to deal with whatever I’ve got given and just make the most of it

There’s no point getting frustrated out there which you can do, but I don’t want to, it’s probably not going to help me

Like I’ve said, I’ve just got to focus on what I’ve got, trying to do my best. I’m not going to try and go down this road of perfection. There’s no point, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

It comes after O’Sullivan revealed that he was ready to concede his third round match to Rod Lawler following his tip troubles.

O’Sullivan was on a break to go 3-0 up on Wednesday night before his tip flew off for a third time in Llandudno, having come off twice in his previous match against Ross Muir, which left him frustrated before he went on to whitewash his opponent.

He told Lawler his “cue was broken” before getting a new tip fitted by tournament director Paul Collier.

I think I’m best suited if I can just keep my mind right, deal with the situation as it is,” O’Sullivan continued following victory over Mertens.

Forget how I’m playing. Because I can be hard on myself. So I’m just trying to make do with what I’ve got, and get the best out of myself in every match, every minute, every situation

If I win, great. If I don’t, come back next week.

That’s the right attitude.

Ronnie will play Tian Pengfei this afternoon. It won’t be easy. Tian is a dangerous player who has just beaten Ali Carter and John Higgins earlier this week, but I’m much more confident in Ronnie’s chances now that he has a new tip fitted. They have met 5 times before: Ronnie won 3 of those encounters, Tian won 2. Ronnie however won the last three. Their last match came in the 2020 Scottish OPen with Ronnie prevailing by 4-3.

Social media can be really awful. Paul Collier it seems got stick for not being able to fix Ronnie’s tip issues. Paul is the tournament director, he’s very good at replacing tips and does it to help players. But, when a tip comes off in the middle of the match, the player only gets 15 minutes to get things fixed. Paul could only do an “emergency job” in such a short time and what he did allowed Ronnie to get through two matches and win both.

Ronnie was full of praise for Ben after the match. Here are some quotes as reported by Eurosport:

He’s young, but he’s got so much talent,

You see some players on the tour and there’s a ceiling to everybody, really, but this kid…I don’t think there’s much of a ceiling, you know. He is, I think, by far the best in his age category so his future is unbelievable.

But I don’t think he should be thinking future; he should be thinking present. The type of game he’s got, the quality he’s got. Just a bit of experience, maybe. But he’ll mould better as a player, and all really, really good players are quick learners

I think it applies in all sports – if you’re going to be good, you get it young. Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Mike Tyson…you know, all the great sportsmen. They do it early. Age is not important

Sometimes when you’re younger, it’s even better, you’re more fearless. Stephen Hendry.”