Phil Haigh ✍️
Liang Wenbo and Ronnie O’Sullivan meet in the semi-finals of the European Masters on Saturday, and it will be a match played in a tremendous spirit as the Chinese star describes the pair as ‘the best snooker playing friends in the world’.
The two first played back at the 2008 World Championship when O’Sullivan progressed with a 13-7 win, but they became good friends after hours of practicing together in Essex.
Liang joined The Grove team and got on well with the Rocket, thanking him for his help when he won his first ranking title five years later at the 2016 English Open.
‘I have to say thank you to Ronnie because I practise with him every day,’ Liang said after the memorable win over Judd Trump in the Manchester final.
‘I have learned a lot from him over the past two years and he’s my best friend.
‘He told me to look back at my UK Championship final last year and see what I could learn from it. I knew I needed to be more calm and controlled this time.
‘Snooker is a very difficult game but if you don’t enjoy it you don’t play well. I’m going to forget about this victory now and move on to the next one. I always learn from every experience.’
After booking his place in Saturday’s semi-final with a 5-4 win over Anthony McGill, Liang spoke of his friendship with O’Sullivan again, remembering a trip to his home town of Huizhou for an exhibition together in 2018.
‘Ronnie and I are very good friends,’ the 34-year-old told WST. ‘We have been to China together and been to my home town and played exhibitions.
‘I think we are the best snooker playing friends in the world.
‘Tomorrow I will just enjoy it. I want to win but it will be very tough.’
Chinese publication Sina Sports reported on that exhibition in Huizhou, with the Rocket winning the match between the two and them both involved in an on-stage interview afterwords.
Sina Sports reported: ‘O’Sullivan said that Liang Wenbo had invited him to visit his hometown several times, but this time he finally had the opportunity to realise it, and he realized how beautiful Huizhou is.
‘He also made no secret of his close friendship with each other. O’Sullivan said frankly that the two have known each other for more than ten years, and they have communicated more frequently in the past two years.
‘They have WeChat contacts almost every day. He even regards Liang Wenbo as his lifelong brother.’
O’Sullivan and Liang meet at 7pm on Saturday for a place in the final of the European Masters, live on Eurosport.
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