01 May 2024

Ronnie O’Sullivan praised for sportsmanship in evenly poised quarter-final

01 May 2024

Ronnie O’Sullivan was praised for an apparent act of sportsmanship midway through the second session of his World Snooker Championship quarter-final against Stuart Bingham at the Crucible.

O’Sullivan ended the session locked together at 8-8 with his fellow former world champion, after Bingham summoned consecutive breaks of 125 and 92 in the final two frames ahead of Wednesday evening’s concluding session.

But attention focused on the 12th frame when O’Sullivan, 14 points down and on a break of 20, played safe rather than opting to pot a red close to the black because he believed the black had not been spotted correctly.

O’Sullivan deliberated with referee Desislava Bozhilova for almost five minutes as the re-spotted black repeatedly rolled fractionally off its spot, which gave the world number one a clear shot at a simple red into the top pocket.

Appearing to believe that if the black did not roll it would block his potting angle, O’Sullivan eventually opted to play a simple safety off the top cushion, earning an ovation from audience and praise from Neil Robertson, who was making his commentary debut for the BBC.

“Ronnie is the type of character that, even if he believes the black isn’t on its spot, he would probably play safe,” said Robertson.

“He’s looking to play safe here even though he can pot a red. It’s unbelievable. If he plays safe here it will probably be the greatest bit of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen in any sport.”

O’Sullivan is no stranger to sporting gestures. At last year’s UK Championship in York, he declared a foul on himself after feathering the cue ball midway through a tight sixth frame of the final against Ding Junhui.

O’Sullivan went on to lose the frame in question to Bingham, before breaks of 79 and 84 saw O’Sullivan move two frames clear in the match for the first time.

But Bingham responded with a superb display of break-building in the final two frames of the session to leave it all to play for on Wednesday evening, with a semi-final against qualifier Jak Jones at stake.

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