Ronnie O'Sullivan produced 'worst performance in years', reckons Stephen Hendry

September 27, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Seventeen
Ronnie O’Sullivan was a long way from his best in the British Open first round (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan turned in the worst performance he’s produced in a long time in first round defeat to Alexander Ursenbacher at the British Open, reckons Stephen Hendry.

The world champion suffered a shock 4-1 defeat to Ursenbacher on Monday evening in Milton Keynes, although given his record against the Swiss star, maybe it was not too much of a surprise.

The 26-year-old has now beaten the Rocket three times, only losing to him once in the minor Championship League, so he certainly has no fear of facing the sport’s greatest ever player.

The world number one did not play like the GOAT on Monday, though, and Hendry was very critical of the 46-year-old’s performance, which saw him finish with a pot success rate of just 80 per cent.

‘That’s probably the worst I’ve seen Ronnie O’Sullivan play for a good few years, he was rubbish tonight,’ Hendry said of the Rocket.

‘He just never got going. He was over-hitting things, played three shots left-handed which missed by a long way. It’s the poorest performance I’ve seen from Ronnie in a long time.

‘I’m sure it’s not the fact he’s playing someone he’s lost to twice, I’m sure that’s not the reason, but for whatever reason he just wasn’t on it tonight.’

Hendry was full of praise for Ursenbacher, though, who appears to have recovered from a very disappointing season last time around and was thoroughly impressive as he downed the world champ.

‘You have to give all the credit to Alexander because he was magnificent, he took it to Ronnie from the word go,’ said the Scot.

‘He was very, very composed right from the word go in the first frame, he was hugely impressive. He looked very comfortable, there’s not many players that look that comfortable playing against Ronnie O’Sullivan.’

2017 World Open - Day 2
Alexander Ursenbacher kept up his very impressive record against the Rocket (Picture: Getty Images)

It was a memorable moment for Ursenbacher, not just because of the fine win, but because his mother was in the crowd and watching him play for the first time as a professional.

Asked how he was feeling after ending the Rocket’s hopes, he told ITV: ‘Just good, I’m happy that my mum’s here. She gave me a lot of strength and I told myself I’m not going to give in, no matter what happens. I’m just going to go for it.

‘It’s like any other win, but he’s a seven-time world champion and the greatest player to ever pick up a cue, so it is special. But I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it, because I’d rather be him.’

The Swiss can now add this victory over O’Sullivan to wins at the 2020 UK Championship and 2019 Welsh Open, putting together a hugely impressive resume against the legend of snooker.

His task now is to follow it up when he takes on Joe O’Connor in the second round on Tuesday evening.

There was a less headline-grabbing shock upset on Monday in the first round, but the climax of the Shaun Murphy vs Gary Wilson game was certainly more shocking.

After an excellent contest which saw centuries from both men, the deciding frame went to the final black, which Murphy potted, only to go in-off and lose the match as a result.

The Magician tweeted after the painful loss: ‘Wow that’s gonna hurt for bit. To clear up and win, then have the white “kick” off the black in-off to lose is brutal for sure. Good luck to @Gary_Wilson11 for the rest of the event.’

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