19 April 2023

Mark Williams questions merit of Hossein Vafaei rant against Ronnie O’Sullivan

19 April 2023

Hossein Vafaei could be left counting the cost of his rant against Ronnie O’Sullivan when the pair get their World Snooker Championship grudge match underway on Friday, according to three-time champion Mark Williams.

Vafaei launched into a tirade against his future opponent after winning his first-round match against Ding Junhui on Sunday, accusing the 47-year-old of “disrespect” and saying O’Sullivan “is such a nice person when he’s asleep”.

O’Sullivan’s response is not yet on the public record but Williams, who gets his own second-round match against Luca Brecel underway on Thursday, believes the seven-time champion could decide to do his talking on the baize.

“Why would you want to wake up the beast?” asked Williams.

“If I was him I’d probably keep my mouth shut and try to beat him rather than say stuff to rile him up, because he’s only going to want to beat you even more. I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to keep your mouth shut.”

In stark contrast to the highly-strung Iranian, who took issue with O’Sullivan’s conduct during their qualifying match in the German Masters in 2021, Williams cuts a laid-back figure who tends to steer clear of controversy.

But even the Welshman admitted he briefly felt wound up when O’Sullivan started playing exhibition shots during a distant meeting between the duo that he could not specifically recall.

“Maybe once about 20-odd years ago I was playing Ronnie and he started clearing up the colours. He kept his hand on the cloth playing four or five balls and played a couple of shots left-handed,” said Williams.

“It bothered me for about two minutes. I’ve probably riled everyone up on the circuit at one or time or another, including the officials. But I won’t be having a go at Luca before I play him. I’m going to try and do my talking on the table.”

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