Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he has enjoyed lockdown after losing in Milton Keynes
Ronnie O’Sullivan was eliminated from the Championship League on a day where he admitted to enjoying his time away from the limelight, saying: “I’ve had the best three months of my life.”
Having seen off Harvey Chandler and Sam Craigie with minimum fuss at the outset of the group winners’ stage, O’Sullivan needed only two frames against Stuart Bingham to make sure of his spot in the tournament finals.
However, the five-time world champion was out of sorts in his final round-robin match and Bingham, who won at the Crucible in 2015, was in an unforgiving mood as he leapfrogged O’Sullivan to top spot with a 3-0 victory.
I've really been enjoying the lockdown, I've had the best three months of my life. Talking about snooker and talking about this and that...I want the lockdown to go on for another five years if it can!
Bingham had been beaten 3-1 by Craigie before rebounding with a 3-0 win over Chandler and an identical scoreline over O’Sullivan helped the Basildon potter top the Group C pile on frame difference.
O’Sullivan had earlier been reluctant to discuss playing behind closed doors in Milton Keynes, a consequence of snooker’s return to play protocols, while he was similarly silent on the tournament’s structure.
However, the 44-year-old, probably the highest-profile player on the World Snooker tour, admitted he has taken solace from the recent countrywide lockdown, which has allowed him a complete break from the game.
In a brief chat over Zoom, O’Sullivan said: “I’ve really been enjoying the lockdown, I’ve had the best three months of my life.
“Talking about snooker and talking about this and that…I want the lockdown to go on for another five years if it can!”
O’Sullivan had cruised into this phase without dropping a frame and two centuries in a 3-0 win over Chandler augured well.
The world number six said of the win: “It was alright. (Chandler) missed a few balls and let me off the hook a little bit. I got a bit lucky.”
Craigie managed to take one frame off O’Sullivan before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat but a lacklustre performance in the former world number one’s final match was expertly capitalised upon by Bingham.
O’Sullivan settled for third place in his group after Craigie whitewashed Chandler in their dead rubber.
Ben Woollaston joined Bingham as one of the four finalists after topping Group D.
Woollaston lost 3-1 to Martin O’Donnell in his opening match but emphatically rebounded with successive breaks of 134, 101 and 127 helping him to a 3-0 win over Tom Ford, who failed to register a single point in the encounter.
Ford then did his conqueror a massive favour by overcoming O’Donnell 3-1, which led to Woollaston topping the standings after overcoming Liang Wenbo 3-0.