O’Sullivan ranks Slessor win ‘one of best of career’

PUBLISHED: 11:09 19 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:09 19 November 2020

Ronnie O'Sullivan during day seven of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.

Ronnie O'Sullivan during day seven of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.

PA Wire/PA Images

Ronnie O’Sullivan is ranked 56 places above Elliot Slessor but reckons his 4-1 win over the world No.58 was one of the best of his career.

The six-time world champion battled back from 1-0 behind to down the Newcastle potter for the first time in three attempts in round two of the Northern Ireland Open.

‘The Rocket’ resents these early round banana skins and believes beating a man who’s never reached a final trumps toppling even his fiercest arch-rival in the World Championship last four.

The 44-year-old, who lost his only two previous meetings with Slessor at the 2017 Northern Ireland Open and 2018 China Open, said: “That’s up there with probably one of the best victories of my career.

“He beat me twice before, had the voodoo sign over me and seems to play fantastically well every time he plays me. He started off really well and I thought ‘here we go, is he going to pump me 4-1 and give a bit more cake in the face?’

“I thought ‘here we go, back up the M1 and I’m going home’. He obviously plays well against me, fancies the job and sometimes beating someone like Elliot Slessor in this tournament, in that round is better than beating someone like [Mark] Selby in the semi-final of the World Championship.

“Because he’s up for none, you’ve got everything to lose and it’s like you can’t really win other than you should win, to the mainstream public. But everyone on the circuit knows how good Elliot is. He can play.

“I’d rather play someone where it’s a 50-50 battle and you know that he’s got as much to lose and on the line than you have, whereas Elliot comes in feeling a lot less pressure.”

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Slessor reached the semi-finals of the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast three years ago and got off to a flyer with a first frame break of 71.

But the Rocket – who also made 57 in that first frame – roared back as visits of 76, 78 and 97 catapulted him into the last 32.

O’Sullivan has scooped 37 major gongs throughout a storied career so knows all about what it takes to cut the mustard at the highest level.

Slessor is one of the sport’s most naturally-talented potters but O’Sullivan slammed his lack of temperament for holding him back on the baize.

“Sometimes he gets a bit down on himself and can get a bit frustrated, and this game’s all about temperament,” added O’Sullivan.

“I won’t tell you names of world champions that have won world titles – they’ve won it because of their temperament, not because they’re got great talent or as good ability as Elliot.

“You’ve just got to have that good temperament – this game, temperament is probably the most important thing.

“You can play great in practice but if you go out there and start beating yourself up, it’s the worst place to be. You’ve got to stay focused.

“If he plays like he did in that first frame-and-a-half why shouldn’t he win tournaments? He should be winning tournaments when he’s playing that sort of stuff.”

*Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+

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