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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Husband

Ronnie O'Sullivan's immediate response to World Championship exit sums up snooker great

Ronnie O’Sullivan was quick to heap praise on Luca Brecel after he was dumped out of the World Snooker Championship in stunning fashion.

The Rocket - who was bidding for a record breaking eighth world title - was in complete command of his quarter-final, leading the Belgian 10-6 going into Wednesday’s afternoon session. But Brecel mounted a storming comeback, winning the final seven frames to clinch a shock 13-10 victory.

And O’Sullivan admitted that despite hitting the front in the early portion of the match, it was only a matter of time before the run of the balls changed. "He played unbelievable. He is such a good player and I love watching him. He is such a dynamic player and he is full of talent,” he told BBC Sport.

Brecel will now face the winner of Anthony McGill’s quarter-final with Si Jiahiu, with the backing of the game’s greatest ever player to go all the way.

"Probably the most talented snooker player I have ever seen,” the Rocket added. “I would love to go and see him win it just for snooker because that is how the game should be played. Phenomenal player, phenomenal talent and a lovely boy. I wish him all the best and I hope he goes on to win the tournament.

"If I'd have put up a bit more resistance maybe he wouldn't have played as well but you still have to pot the balls. I just wasn't playing well enough to have an impact on the game.

"If it was a boxing match they'd have stopped it very early because I was pinching frames and hanging on and it catches up with you at some point."

There were few signs of the drama that was set to unfold in Sheffield, with the reigning champion holding leads of 6-2 and then 10-6. But he failed to win a single frame in the final session, the first time that has happened at the Crucible since 2006.

Despite his dominant position, hopes for a swift O’Sullivan victory were quickly dispelled after he missed several reds in the first frame, allowing Brecel a foothold in the match. He then missed a simple red in the next, allowing the Belgian Bullet to half the deficit.

The 28-year-old rattled in breaks of 112, 64, 72, 61, 78 to put himself one from victory, before holding his nerve with a visit of 63 to seal victory. Brecel joins Mark Allen in the final four, who overcame Jak Jones in another thrilling encounter, ultimately winning out 13-10.

The Rocket is backing Brecel to go all the way and win his maiden world title (BBC)

Mark Selby and John Higgins are locked in battle in the other quarter, with McGill and Jiahiu resuming on Wednesday evening.

As for O’Sullivan, he revealed he will be hanging around the championships in a media capacity, but admitted he wasn’t despondent about his exit: “I’m going to go for a holiday. Try and do a few days for Eurosport because they’ve been kind to me. I’ll try and hang around for a few days. I’ll start my running again tomorrow which I’m looking forward to.

“I’ll knock the ciggies on the head, knock the scones on the head - try and eat a little healthier and look after myself and get back home. There’s a few things to look forward to.

“I’m not downbeat as some might think, I’m sorry about that if anyone gets offended, but you have to have perspective and take the rough with the smooth.”

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