Snooker: Ronnie ‘robbed’ UK Championship rival
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Ronnie O’Sullivan believes he robbed Sunny Akani of a place in the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship after narrowly avoiding a huge upset.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan was put through the mill by the 22-year-old, who led 2-0, 4-2 and 5-4, but eventually succumbed 6-5 at the York Barbican.
O’Sullivan will now face Martin Gould in the last eight, but he took time to heap praise on his defeated Thai opponent and revealed he felt sorry for the youngster after his fantastic performance.
He said: “I don’t know a lot about him. I hear a lot about him. He’s a great character and a beautiful lad. I hope he has a fantastic career. It’s great for snooker.
“I felt a bit sorry for him really. He deserved to win. I felt I had robbed him of a victory. I’m sure he’ll have some good wins in the future.”
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The Rocket had dropped just four frames heading into the contest but the Thai potter put O’Sullivan under immediate pressure, racing into a 2-0 lead, although the multi world champion reeled off breaks of 121 and 98 to level the encounter heading into the interval.
This was only Akani’s second appearance in the fourth round of a ranking competition but the world No.84 burst into another two-frame lead before being pegged back again by O’Sullivan.
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And after going within one frame of defeat O’Sullivan was able to dig deep and snatch the final two frames to avoid an unlikely defeat.
A match-up against Gould awaits and O’Sullivan admitted that he’ll be lucky win a frame against the 36-year-old if he replicates his fourth round display.
“It was probably a lucky day. I don’t know,” he said.
“I didn’t really care. If I lost I was quite happy to be going home but if I won I was quite happy to stay another day.
“Life’s good here but life’s also good back home. I was just trying to play a decent snooker match.
“I’d be lucky to get a couple of frames if I play like that.
“If he beats me, fair play to Martin. He’s a good lad. If I win then it’s fantastic.”
*Watch LIVE coverage of the UK Championship on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with Colin Murray and analysis from Jimmy White and Neal Foulds.