Ronnie O'Sullivan full of praise for Noppon Saengkham after significant defeat

January 18, 2023
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Phil Haigh ✍️  


2023 World Grand Prix
Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered his first ever loss to Noppon Saengkham (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s chances of making the Players Championships suffered a serious blow after a 4-2 defeat to Noppon Saengkham in the second round of the World Grand Prix on Wednesday night.

The world champion took a 2-0 lead and looked good for it as he made half-centuries in both frames, but the Thai star hit back in style.

The 30-year-old, who beat Mark Selby in his opening match, won four on the spin to pick up a memorable win, making a high break of 96 along the way.

Next month’s Players Championship only features the top 16 players on the one-year ranking list and O’Sullivan now has just the Welsh Open left to earn the ranking points required to get there, needing a run to the semis to make the tournament.

However, despite the loss, the Rocket was impressed by Noppon who continues to show that he could be a top 16 player in the years to come.

‘He played amazing, potted some great balls, great positional play. He just played brilliant, he’s such an improved player,’ O’Sullivan told ITV.

‘I watched him play Selby, he played some fantastic stuff and he carried it on today. I’ve got no complaints, I gave it my best and it wasn’t good enough on the day.’

‘I don’t know if I played well or bad, I just gave it my best and it wasn’t good enough on the day.

‘I was 2-0 up, he managed to reel four frames off on the spin, played some good stuff, every credit to him.

‘You can’t begrudge anyone victories in any sport or any game. Very rarely have I lost a game that I think I’ve deserved to win.’

On the prospect of missing the Players Championship, and then the prestigious Tour Championship for the top eight on the one-year list in April, the Rocket added: ‘I don’t really know. I don’t really worry myself with making events or making cuts.

‘I just play every tournament as it is, enjoy playing, enjoy competing. If I don’t make the Players Championship I’ll just fill my time up doing exhibitions.

‘I just love playing, I enjoy being on the road and the thought of not being on the road is not a good feeling.’

Noppon moves on and things do not get any easier after Selby and O’Sullivan, facing either Mark Williams or Ding Junhui in the quarte-finals in Cheltenham.

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