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Shoe fits nicely for Ronnie O'Sullivan as he cruises into last 16 of UK Championship


Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan

A new pair of shoes and a more playable table helped Ronnie O'Sullivan cruise into the last 16 of the UK Championship.

A typically outspoken O'Sullivan suggested after his first-round win at York's Barbican he might have to withdraw from the tournament due to the pain incurred from his broken ankle.

O'Sullivan then battled on through a second-round victory, only to slate the tables as "shocking" given their uneven bounce off the cushions.

Following the four-times champion's stinging criticisms, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association responded on Sunday night by employing table fitters to correct the faults.

After a 6-2 triumph over Ben Woollaston in the third round yesterday, the 38-year-old O'Sullivan was in a far happier frame of mind.

Although trailing 2-1 early on, O'Sullivan rattled off five frames in a row that included breaks of 56, 65, 104 and 84 to set up a fourth-round clash with Matthew Selt.

Asked initially as to the state of his ankle, a smiling O'Sullivan told the BBC: "It's great!

"I couldn't use it as an excuse today. Yeah, the first two matches I struggled, but today I feel like I'm walking fine, I've new shoes.

"The others I kept looking at them and thought they were horrible, but these are quite trendy!"

O'Sullivan was also quick to praise the revamped tables, adding: "I have to say they are playing unbelievably, brilliantly well.

"No-one wants to be playing on tables...in the end I thought 'just don't use the cushions'.

"Today I wasn't confident until halfway through the match and then I thought 'these are playing properly now'.

"So fair play to the table boys and whoever has got it sorted because it's a different ball game out there."

As to whether he can go on to clinch a fifth UK title, O'Sullivan said: "Well I can't use the ankle as an excuse any more because it feels great, as long as I don't twist it in the next day or so.

"I played good at the Masters, played good at the Regal Welsh (Open), but other than that I've not really played that well.

"It's been my mental skills that have helped me get through."

Scotland's Graeme Dott thrashed Robert Milkins 6-0 to take his place in the last 16, compiling centuries of 117, 120 and 127 en route, with his opponent managing a paltry total of 28 points in reply.

Dott will next play in-form reigning champion Neil Robertson after the Australian beat Peter Ebdon 6-2, with each of his frames won on the back of superb breaks of 74, 108, 84, 70, 78 and 65.