Sunday 20 October 2019

Referee reprimands 'rude' Ronnie during semi-final

Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts after a shot during his match against Judd Trump, during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible
Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts after a shot during his match against Judd Trump, during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible

Harry Maguire

Ronnie O’Sullivan once again found himself in the eye of a self-made storm at the Betfair World Championship on Friday night at the Crucible during his semi-final against Judd Trump.

O’Sullivan was leading 13-9 in the penultimate frame of the night when he missed a ball he expected to rifle into the pocket. He then appeared to run his hand up the shaft of his cue between his legs before referee Michaela Tabb stepped in to issue a brief reprimand.

O’Sullivan was informally warned by Tabb and then said “I want to go home” – clearly frustrated as the match of which so much was expected degenerated into a real dogfight.

“Ronnie was given an informal warning but we will be keeping an eye on his future behaviour,” said a World Snooker spokesperson.

Four-time and defending champion O’Sullivan denied trying to cause offence, arguing his cue was sticky and he was trying to solve the problem.

The 37-year-old has only just returned from a 12-month sabbatical to try to deal with personal issues, and in the space of one tournament he has managed to make the rest of the season look pretty pedestrian.

On the table O’Sullivan has, at times, been close to his brilliant best, and finished the third session of four last night leading world No 3 Trump, 14-10 with the final session to start at 2.30pm today.

But the incident in the 23rd frame ensured it will not be just a spectacular comeback everyone will be talking about. Already this week O’Sullivan, having insisted for weeks how much he was looking forward to playing again, announced this was to be his swansong at the blue-riband tournament and faces disciplinary action for swearing during that press conference. Six-time world champion Steve Davis claimed O’Sullivan was “disrespectful” to paying fans over his regular threats to walk away.

O’Sullivan, requires just three more frames for a place in Sunday's final after regrouping and taking the last of a dramatic evening session with a fluent break of 89.

The pair emerged to an incredible ovation on Friday night for what could yet be the sorcerer’s last clash with his apparent apprentice. And the tiny theatre crackled in the kind of atmosphere more usually found at a football match.

Trump had manfully claimed the last frame of the morning session to stay in with a chance at 9-7 down. But the young left-hander desperately needed a good start in the evening – but he didn’t get one, and at four frames adrift the task may be beyond even his talents.

Meanwhile Ricky Walden has slipped unnoticed through the draw, no easy feat for a player that stands 6 ft 3 ins tall.

The 30-year-old began the tournament ranked No 13 in the world, and is already guaranteed to rise into the top eight for the first time by virtue of his efforts in reaching the semi-finals.

On Friday, Walden resumed leading Barry Hawkins 6-2 – but despite his highest break being just 47 Hawkins hit back and trails 9-7 going into Saturday’s concluding frames.

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