Phil Haigh ✍️
The Turkish Masters begins for the first time on Monday and, while there are plenty of big names in the field, three of the biggest are not there, in Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby.
Three of the top four players in the world rankings are not heading to Antalya for various reasons, leaving Judd Trump, Kyren Wilson, John Higgins and Zhao Xintong as the highest ranked players in the event,
O’Sullivan made his feelings clear a while ago, not entering the event, so never being in the draw in the first place.
The Rocket said he would only be travelling to Turkey if the event’s promoter would pay him an appearance fee, and when that was not forthcoming he was happy to miss out.
‘I don’t really have any regrets about not being involved in the Turkish Masters and playing in the qualifier,’ the Rocket told The Sportsman.
‘A five-star hotel on the beach isn’t going to entice me to get my cue out of my case and enter a tournament. I could probably go anywhere in the world and experience that – and not have to be surrounded by loads of snooker players and officials!
‘I could go to Hawaii or Dubai and get invited out there and have equally a great time. It is all about the value for my time and commercial decisions now. I am going to play 10 tournaments a season, because that is what I am contracted to do for my sponsors. I don’t have to play more.
‘And if promoters want me to play in their events, then they’ll have to get on the phone and we can come to some sort of arrangement.’
Selby had been due to travel, but has decided to take a break from snooker ahead of his World Championship defence in April as he continues to have treatment for a mental health problem.
The world champion has been very open about struggles with depression and will sit out the remaining tournaments of the season until the big trip to Sheffield.
‘I am very sorry not to be going to the first Turkish Masters as I had been looking forward to the tournament and I’m sure it will be a great event,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, it has just come at the wrong time for me with some challenges I am facing.’
Robertson was also a late withdrawal, with The Sportsman stating that he had reservations over the lengthy trip and ‘uncertainties created by the war in Ukraine.’
‘I want to apologise to the fans in Turkey and would have loved to play there,’ said Robertson. ‘I look forward very much to being there next year.’
Selby was replaced in the draw by Haydon Pinhey and Robertson by Simon Blackwell.
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