EXPLAINING THE RULES with Jamie Clarke | BetVictor Shoot Out

O’Sullivan Endures Pain To Give Pagett The Elbow

Playing in a ranking event for the first time this season, Ronnie O’Sullivan eased to a 4-0 win over Andrew Pagett in the opening round of the BetVictor English Open, but admitted that he still suffers from the long-term effects of tennis elbow.

World number one O’Sullivan won the invitational Shanghai Masters earlier this month, but pulled out of the recent BetVictor European Masters and British Open for medical reasons. So today’s fixture was his first in a ranking event since the World Championship in April and he secured victory with top breaks of 69 and 62. The Rocket now meets Jackson Page at 1pm on Wednesday at the Brentwood Centre (tickets are still available, for details click here).

The pain of tennis elbow has plagued O’Sullivan for around 18 months and still flares up regularly. “I have tried resting it,” the 47-year-old told Eurosport after today’s match. “It will be ok once I take painkillers. I don’t want to keep taking them, but I need to in order to be able to commit to shots with power.

“I might need another cortisone injection which would be my third one, but I don’t really want to do that either because it weakens the muscles. It started last year when I went to the gym and lifted too many heavy weights – after that I couldn’t pick up a cup of tea. From that moment it has been very weak and it gets worse whenever I aggravate it.”

O’Sullivan was also asked about last night’s British Open triumph for Mark Williams, a fellow member of the renowned Class of ’92. He replied: “Every time either Mark or John (Higgins) win something then I think ‘I’m still in the game.’ It shows we can still compete. Even with one arm, my eyes are going and I am nearly 50, I’m still performing ok!”

Sanderson Lam scored the best win of his career as he beat Neil Robertson 4-2. World number 73 Lam has enjoyed a fine start to the season having won at least one match in every ranking event so far, but today’s victory, on the main televised table, was a career highlight. Robertson, meanwhile, is yet to go past the last 64 of a ranking event this season and lies well outside the top 16 of the provisional end of season list.

Leeds-based Lam, who now meets Stuart Carrington, said: “It was a relief to get over the line, it was looking like 3-3 so I was proud of the way I finished the match. I was a bit lucky today that Neil wasn’t at his best, because he is a great player. I am practising hard on my weaknesses, and analysing matches that I lose. I am enjoying the game and winning gives you confidence.”

John Higgins edged out Marco Fu 4-3 in a contest which came down to the last five balls. Higgins got the better of a safety exchange on the green, potting it to to a baulk order and adding the points he needed to set up a tie with James Cahill on Tuesday morning.

Local favourite Ali Carter saw off Jamie Clarke 4-1 with top runs of 85, 128 and 62 while Ryan Davies won the battle of the English amateur wild cards, beating Bradley Cowdroy 4-2.