Ronnie bows out the 2023 Welsh Open, whitewashed by Tian Pengfei

It was an afternoon to forget for Ronnie but a great one for Tian Pengfei who reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time in his 17 years long career. It was a really bad day in office for Ronnie and Tian played really well and grew in confidence as the match went on.

Here are the scores

And the match report by Eurosport:


Ronnie O’Sullivan is another big name who will be absent from the Players Championship, as his loss to Tian Pengfei in the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open dashed his hopes. It was a fully deserved victory for Tian as O’Sullivan was off the pace. 

A below-par Ronnie O’Sullivan was sent crashing out of the Welsh Open by Tian Pengfei, dashing his hopes of reaching the Players Championship in the process.

O’Sullivan has had a tough time on the table in Llandudno, with his tip falling off on three occasions earlier in the tournament.

He beat Ben Mertens in the previous round with his cue staying in good order, but he did not look fully settled and that appeared the case again in his quarter-final with Tian who grew in confidence to secure an impressive win.

The opening two frames went Tian’s way in worrying fashion for O’Sullivan fans and after the Chinese player took a scrappy third, he grew in confidence and took the match to book his place in a ranking semi-final for the first time in his career.

O’Sullivan needed a run to the final to secure a place at the Players Championship, but will now have to fall back on some exhibitions to sharpen his game.

Tian set his stall out by playing an extremely attacking safety in the opening frame to open the reds up and pile pressure on O’Sullivan.

The four-time winner of the event had no route back to baulk so took on a red, but missed by a distance and Tian was rewarded for his endeavour as he crafted a break of 66. 

As in the opener, O’Sullivan missed a red to the bottom left by a distance at the start of the second and further misses were to follow. He was down at 40% pot success at that stage, and Tian took full advantage to double his lead courtesy of a half-century break.

After looking completely out of sorts in the opening two frames, O’Sullivan showed signs of life in the third. He knocked in a series of impressive pots to get going, and was unfortunate to run out of position on 31.

The frame turned extremely scrappy, with balls clustered over the bottom left. It took some time for the frame to develop, and Tian got a series of nice nudges and cannons to build a lead. But he missed a red with the long rest to hand O’Sullivan a chance and he looked set to get on the board only to fall awkwardly on the final blue, and missed a tough cut into the yellow pocket.

Both players missed further chances on the blue, before Tian knocked it into the green pocket – with the long rest – and got a kind nudge to drop plumb on the pink to secure a three-frame cushion.

O’Sullivan largely fed off scraps from Tian in the opening three frames. He had a decent chance in the fourth, but a red to bottom right did not drop. 

While O’Sullivan appeared all at sea, Tian’s confidence was rising and he picked off an excellent break of 86 to move into a 4-0 lead.

O’Sullivan was whitewashed by Tian’s fellow countryman Ding Junhui in the quarter-finals of the UK Championship, and suffered the same fate in Llandudno.

Potting was the big problem for O’Sullivan on Friday, but his safety was below par and a poor shot when attempting to get back to baulk in the fifth hammered the final nail in his coffin.

The table was not a simple one for Tian, but he picked off a couple of tough reds to clear the road and a break of 73 got him over the line.

It has been a 17-year wait since turning professional for a first ranking semi-final, and it was achieved in style with back-to-back wins over class of 92 alum John Higgins and O’Sullivan.

Ronnie was interviewed by Michael McMullan after the match and he was gracious as always, praising his opponent. He was however clearly disappointed with his own performance and fed up. He had bitten his tip off at the end the the match.

Ronnie is now out of the 2023 Players Championship, and the 2023 Tour Championship. Even winning the WST classic wouldn’t be enough. His focus though seems to be on the 6-reds Championship in Thailand.

Missing out on the Players Championship though might be a blessing in disguise, as Jimmy White explained in the studio.

It was obvious that Ronnie had no confidence in his shots today, and most shots played with side went badly wrong. If his cue/ferule need repair, the earlier it’s done, the better.

As a Ronnie fan, I’m very disappointed, of course, but credits to Tian, he fully deserved the win and I wish him the best for the rest of the tournament.

And here is the report by WST:

O’Sullivan Whitewashed As Tian Reaches First Semi

World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered one of his most shocking defeats of recent years as he was crushed 5-0 at the BetVictor Welsh Open by Tian Pengfei, who is through to the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time.

Three months ago, O’Sullivan was whitewashed in a Triple Crown event for the first time when he went down 6-0 to Ding Junhui at the UK Championship, but this was an even more surprising defeat as he was annihilated by a player ranked 49th in the world. The result also means that O’Sullivan cannot qualify for next week’s Players Championship in Wolverhampton as he needed to reach the final to climb into the top 16 of the one-year rankings.

While he has won two invitation titles at the Champion of Champions and Hong Kong Masters, O’Sullivan has struggled in ranking events this season, failing to reach a semi-final. He is likely to have just one more ranking event – the WST Classic in March – before he heads to Sheffield in April to chase an eighth Crucible crown.

China’s 35-year-old Tian, who knocked out Ali Carter and John Higgins on Thursday, had lost all four of his previous ranking quarter-finals, but showed no signs of nerves today in Llandudno as he progressed to a match with Mark Allen or Robert Milkins. He is now guaranteed £17,500 and if he goes on to win the title he will earn a spot in Wolverhampton.

O’Sullivan, who has had problems with his cue tip all week, scored just ten points in the first two frames as Tian made breaks of 66 and 51 in going 2-0 ahead. A scrappy 30-minute third frame came down to the colours and O’Sullivan twice missed the blue to a baulk corner, handing his opponent the chance to pot blue and pink to extend his lead. World number one O’Sullivan failed to pot a ball in the last two frames as Tian sailed through with runs of 82 and 73.

It’s very special, definitely the biggest win of my career, especially to play Ronnie with that crowd and atmosphere,” said Tian, who has now beaten O’Sullivan in three of their six meetings. “I know he has changed his tip a few times his week, so I feel sorry for him because that is tough for a player. It happens sometimes.

My performance was good, I tried to stay calm and enjoy the occasion. I have beaten two legends in Higgins and O’Sullivan so I am very pleased. It’s unbelievable. Every match I just try my best and the crowd make me feel good. It means a lot, it’s like a dream to beat Ronnie on TV, and a lot of my family and friends in China will be watching.”

O’Sullivan said: “Tian played well and deserved his victory. If I scored myself on my mindset in terms of how I dealt with it today I would give myself nine and a half out of ten. Less than that for my performance. There are no excuses, you have to deal with whatever is put in front of you and accept it. I tried my hardest, but every mistake I made I got punished.

16 thoughts on “Ronnie bows out the 2023 Welsh Open, whitewashed by Tian Pengfei

  1. I actually think Ronnie would have at least made it to the final (and qualified for the PC) if it hadn’t been for his tip problems.

    On the bright side, at least the tip problems surfaced at the Welsh Open instead of the World Championship. That’s not to say that problems can’t resurface at Sheffield, but making repairs to his cue now will presumably decrease the likelihood of that happening…

  2. Ronnie will now almost certainly play way more matches in the CL and 6 Reds than he did in the PC and the TC before the WC in previous seasons. I know these will be nearly all very short matches, but I think Ronnie is at a stage in his career now, where he doesn’t need those tough “tests” before the WC anymore which are provided by the PC and TC. It’s about keeping the arm going for him and he certainly will do that in those two tournaments and maybe exhibitions. So he will be sharp. And anyway, the most sharp ones coming to Sheffield will be, as always, the 16 qualifiers coming through Judgement day and not those who played in the PC and TC.

  3. Good grief indeed, maybe I am ( a mad Ronnie fanatic, or what was it) and in any case without trying to argue that the two don’t need be mutually exclusive, I won’t apologize for not finding it fortunate that Ronnie played awful or all the troubles he ran into, no matter how joyous it could be for others.lll

    On another note I think Monique might be right and I also mentioned age before and it is telling how Higgins also shows signs. They always say how Ronnie’s game is not declining and he indeed shows brilliance from time to the, as well as what they call hard match snooker, but inconsistencies abound. I still do hope he will get that 40th title somehow somewhere.

  4. Whenever Ronnie talks about working on his mindset and the mental side of snooker (and life), I wonder if he is always doing that work with Steve Peters or if he now does at least some of it on his own…

  5. Ronnie has yet to make it to the semi-final of a ranking event this season, though I doubt he cares much about that.

    Assuming his cue/tip issues are sorted out, I think he’s looking forward to the 6- and 15-reds World Championship events, and I expect him to play better at those events than he has for most of the season thus far.

  6. It was terribly painful to watch even though he would have probably lost to Allen anyway. Of course it might be good that he has time to sort out his cue by Sheffield, but it would have been even better had all this not happened (Jimmy is always the optimist, but even he will run out of positives at one point), and similarly I won’t ben over backwards to celebrate that a professional player managed to do the obvious and picked up the pieces after such a terrible display. Of course there are many shoulda-wouldas (he should have done just a little bit better so that the ITV-series would have been secured) , but this season was bad despite winning some lucrative invitationals. Maybe Ronnie liked it that way and the post-WC hangover is logical, but it is just the feeling of a post-Ronnie snooker and I don’t like it. he might enjoy Thailand, but the 6-red is just a joke and fun. But hope, Murphy wins the Welsh.

    • Actually Ronnie has booked some exhibitions for next week, although he does have a spare cue. If he intends to change the ferrule that will take a couple of days to set and it will affect the weight balance. It might take several days of practice to feel comfortable again.

  7. It’s been a great set of results for Tian Pengfei, who has had a very unhappy time personally since 2020. He has suffered ill health, also had the problems of owning a restaurant (with his wife) during covid lockdowns. He’s also a director at the Ding Junhui Academy, which has seen 5 players suspended. Normally, he lacks self-belief on the top tables, hence my prediction of today’s match. Fortunately, Ronnie played so poorly that he was able to progress to his first semi-final.

    • I certainly don’t find it bloody fortunate. Really. With due respect me and many here are fans of Ronnie and hoped he could go to the Players and don’t find it particularly cheerful what happened.

      • I meant ‘fortunately for Tian’. I don’t think Tian would be capable of winning if Ronnie played anywhere near decently.

      • right mister rerack, this is a ronnie fanblog so if u ain’t a ronnie fanboy I dunno what u doin here

      • It’s a Ronnie fan blog, but it’s also, very much, a snooker fan blog. Also, it’s not being a Ronnie fan to deny him the right to be human and that’s what those who believe/insist that if he tries he will always win do. Ronnie is having a bad season, no doubt. Winning at the Crucible for the 7th time took a lot out of him, mentally and emotionally, then the tennis elbow prevented him from practicing. This week the cue/ferrule/tip issues ruined it for him. He tried his best. Except for the whack at the pack against Rod Lawler, he coped rather well with the frustrations. And, it pains me to write this, but at 47, maybe what we are seeing are the first clear signs of decline. Higgins and Williams aren’t having the best season either.

    • oh so the guy is a director at the academy where almost everyone is corrupt. shouldn’t he face some questions maybe?

      • Indeed, he and Ding Junhui have been cleared of any involvement. Actually, the Academy has 11 tables and many players. It’s not quite true that ‘almost everyone is corrupt’. Knowing Tian, he’s nodoubt devastated at being let down by some of his players, as are the CBSA.

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