Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan says he felt good at the Championship League on Monday and it certainly looked that way as he reeled off three wins from three matches to top his opening group in the competition.
The Rocket was playing for the first time since winning his seventh World Championship title at the start of May and it looked like he had been on the practice table over the summer break.
The 46-year-old started his day with a 3-0 win over Farakh Ajaib and followed that with 3-1 victories over Alfie Burden and Alexander Ursenbacher.
The final match against the Swiss star was particularly good, with O’Sullivan making breaks of 56, 58 and finally 121 after Ursenbacher had made 105 in the second frame.
A contented Rocket seemed to have had a good day out in Leicester, although even if he hadn’t, he says it wouldn’t have bothered him.
‘I just enjoyed playing, it felt good to be out there hitting balls again I suppose,’ he said.
‘Even if I play rubbish, it doesn’t bother me, I can quickly get over it and move onto the things I enjoy.’
Topping the group puts him through to the next stage of the event later this month, with Jamie Jones the other man to keep his campaign alive on Monday.
The Welshman picked up wins over Andres Petrov and David Lilley before drawing with Sam Craigie in his final match of the day.
The 34-year-old has set himself the huge task of climbing from number 31 in the world to the top 16 by the Masters and, while that will be incredibly difficult, he has made the perfect start.
‘I’ve been practicing well and playing as much as I’ve ever done in the off season,’ he said. ‘This year, I’ve done a little bit of coaching where in previous years I’d usually put the cue down for two months. Now, I feel sharp and am glad to get through to the next stage.
‘I have been a notoriously slow starter to the season, so I did feel a little bit of pressure coming into today as I didn’t want to start this season how I usually do.
‘I’m currently 31st [on the tour] and I’ve given myself the hefty goal of trying to get into the Masters by January. It’s a massive goal, but if you don’t aim high what are you going to achieve? I’d also love to pick up my first trophy this season.’
O’Sullivan, Jones and the rest of the Stage One winners will return for their second groups from 25-27 July, with the first group stage running all the way until 21 July.
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