Phil Haigh ✍️
Ben Mertens may have lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan at the English Open on Monday, but the teenager left with plenty of compliments from the world champion.
The Rocket edged out the 18-year-old 4-3 in Brentwood, with Mertens losing the first three frames then taking three on the spin to force a decider.
He couldn’t quite get the job done against the world number one, but pushed him hard and looked good doing so, with O’Sullivan expecting big things from the young Belgian.
‘He is a great cueist, hits the ball well,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport. ‘I like his game. He is only young and he is going to be around. The sky is the limit for him really.
‘I just think he hits the ball well. He has a very good snooker brain, sees the shot, plays the shot.
‘He is a great lad. He plays the game nicely and you want to see more players play the game like that.’
The praise will have meant a huge amount to Mertens, as speaking before the match he said: ‘He’s my idol. And yeah, he’s my hero. So it’s a special day for me today.’
Although only 18, Mertens has been tipped for success for some time, winning a match at the Shoot Out at just 14 years old in 2019, then becoming the youngest player ever to win a match in the World Championship qualifiers when he beat James Cahill in 2020 (a record since beaten by Liam Davies).
He is now on the professional tour for the first time this season after winning the European Under-21 Championship earlier this year.
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