O’Sullivan squeaks through at Masters

Ronnie O'Sullivan is competing at The Masters (pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Ronnie O'Sullivan is competing at The Masters (pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA) - Credit: PA WIRE

Chigwell snooker star overcomes Williams in final frame decider at Alexandra Palace

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes he was fortunate to come away with victory and will have to play considerably better if he is to win the Masters, after edging through his first-round clash on Tuesday afternoon.

O’Sullivan is making his return to the big stage after an eight-month sabbatical from snooker following last year’s World Championship and lacked consistency in a tense 6-5 victory over Wales’ Mark Williams at London’s Alexandra Palace.

The Chigwell resident won the opening two frames and although Williams reeled off the next four to establish a 4-2 lead, O’Sullivan began to produce something resembling his best as breaks of 104, 60 and 117 moved him within one of victory.

A tense tenth frame eventually went the way of the Welshman to force a decider which ‘The Rocket’ ultimately won with a knock of 62, after his opponent missed a long red.

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The 40-year-old claims he is struggling with a long-term back injury which he re-aggravated on a rowing machine recently and although he has won the Masters on five occasions, he is not convinced he will notch a sixth this week.

“If I continue to play like that, then there’s no point. I’ve got away with that one there but I can’t keep playing to that level and win,” said O’Sullivan.

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“If it doesn’t get itself back together then it’s not looking good. I got out of jail there, so as far as I’m concerned I just have to go out there and do my best with what I’ve got.

“That’s not me trying to take pressure off myself, believe me, because I’d rather be sitting here feeling good about my game and relishing whoever I play next

“Maybe I’m lacking in confidence or I’m slightly out of alignment because of the back injury — I don’t know what it is.”

Despite a glittering career, which includes two World titles, Williams has always struggled against O’Sullivan — losing 29 and winning just ten of their encounters.

A clash of the two old rivals certainly captured the imagination of a vociferous Alexandra Palace crowd but O’Sullivan admits he didn’t enjoy the experience as much as he could have.

“It was a brilliant crowd and it’s not too far from where I live but it does get a bit hectic, it’s a bit of a circus for me,” he added.

“There are a lot of people hanging around and sometimes that takes the fun out of just playing a tournament.”

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