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O’Sullivan out, but happier than ever

PUBLISHED: 20:10 26 April 2017 | UPDATED: 20:10 26 April 2017

Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts after a shot during his match against Ding Junhui at the Betfred Snooker World Championships at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts after a shot during his match against Ding Junhui at the Betfred Snooker World Championships at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (pic Martin Rickett/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Five-time champion loses to Ding Junhui

Ronnie O’Sullivan may have been dumped out of the Betfred World Championships, but he insists he has just finished the happiest year of his life on the table – vowing not to quit just because he is not winning.

The Essex cueman was outclassed by Ding Junhui in Sheffield on Wednesday, going down 13-10 in their quarter-final match-up and stretching O’Sullivan’s Crucible drought to five years.

But the five-time champion was all smiles at the end of the match, despite another opportunity to close in on Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles passing him by.

“It does not bother me, I have never been one for chasing records. And I won’t stop playing just because I am not winning tournaments. I keep playing because I love playing,” he said.

“And this thing that you have to keep breaking records and winning tournaments, I have just had the best year of my life and I have not won many and I think ‘how does that relate’ but I keep enjoying it.

“For me, it is just about playing so why would I not do it because I am not winning or get the hump when you lose?

“Because I love playing and everything that comes with snooker is just a bonus. If you could play it as well as me, you would love it as well.”

In truth, O’Sullivan lost the match in the second session as he fell 10-6 behind and, although he rallied, he could not quite prevent Ding from securing the three frames he needed to get over the line and book a last-four clash with Mark Selby.

O’Sullivan still thrilled the crowd, though, and a mesmeric break of 146, the highest of the tournament so far, brought fans to their feet – but it had looked like a maximum 147 was on the cards when he sunk 12 reds and blacks.

But a mis-placed positional shot ruined that chance, and the 41-year-old was forced to deny he deliberately sabotaged the 147 opportunity – with just £5,000 on offer.

“I just play the balls as I see it. Everyone always asks how many shots I look ahead but I just play what comes in front of me,” he said.

“I was playing for the black but I just did not get on it, but there is a highest break available so I thought I may as well go for that instead.”

*Watch the Snooker World Championship Live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player, with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.

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