Snooker: O'Sullivan out of NI Open
PUBLISHED: 15:19 23 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:19 23 November 2017
Ronnie O'Sullivan's bid for the £1million Home Nations jackpot is finally over and the five-time world champion couldn't be more relieved to see the chance finally shut down.
‘The Rocket’ arrived in Belfast this week with a chance to make history, aiming to become the first recipient of a seven-figure sum if he was to win all four Home Nations events.
But he was to be humbled in emphatic fashion by Elliot Slessor, who clinically dispatched a fatigued O’Sullivan 4-1 as his Dafabet Northern Ireland Open came to a grinding halt.
The world No.4 was far from his best in the Waterfront Hall but, with World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn’s money now safe, this defeat was far from the end of the world.
“I’m so happy that I don’t have to think about the £1m anymore, I’m not motivated by money and all these silly headlines are just ridiculous,” said the English Open winner.
“I just went along with it but you’ve got more chance of winning the lottery. I gave it a good go for one and a half tournaments at least.
“I’m not a greedy person, I like to prepare for my tournaments and get into a training camp but I haven’t had that chance since the English Open.
“I need to prepare to get my game high and I just haven’t had that chance, one tournament has rolled into another tournament and I’ve done okay. But at some point it catches up with you.”
That said, nothing could be taken away from the performance of Slessor, revelling in what he considered to be the greatest victory of his career.
He was fully deserving of it too, opening up with a break of 62 to keep the man who many consider to be snooker’s greatest talent rooted to his seat.
O’Sullivan battled back, taking the second frame, but showed he wasn’t at his best with a missed black off the spot to fall 3-1 behind.
From that moment there was no coming back, as the fifth frame went Slessor’s way for him to take his place in the last 16.
“I thought he played really well, he handled the situation and was solid,” said O’Sullivan.
“Over the best-of-seven matches, being solid can often be enough, he wasn’t spectacular but he didn’t have to be.
“It’s probably good for me that I’ve lost, I can go and have a week at home and just chill out, relax and try and regroup again.”
O’Sullivan has already made plenty of headlines by calling some players on the tour ‘numpties’, a comment that wound up defending champion Mark King, who labelled him a ‘tool’.
But with the two having plenty of history, O’Sullivan was far from perturbed by the remark.
“Mark King – he doesn’t like me anyway, he’s never liked me so we’ll get over that, move on,” added O’Sullivan.
*Watch the Northern Ireland Open LIVE on Eurosport, Eurosport Player and Quest with Colin Murray and daily studio analysis with Neal Foulds.