Rocket Wins Despite Tip Trials
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s cue tip fell off for the third time in two days, but a rapid repair allowed him to continue his run as he beat Rod Lawler 4-0 to reach the last 16 of the BetVictor Welsh Open.
The World Champion’s tip broke loose twice during his match against Ross Muir on Tuesday, and once again tonight it was rolling across the table after he played a shot during the third frame. Tournament director Paul Collier replaced the tip and the match resumed, O’Sullivan wrapping up the result having scored breaks of 100, 62 and 58 over the four frames.
“I’ll get the cue sent to John Parris, it needs a new ferrule,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “Hopefully it will be ready for Thailand and the other important tournaments coming up. Every shot I play I think the tip will fall off, I’m expecting to see it rolling around the table. It will come off again. I am not cueing badly. I think I am doing really well, I am working on my mindset, irrespective of how I play. I am just staying within my mind.”
The world number one is through to the last 16 of a ranking event for the third time this season but must reach the final in Llandudno to qualify for next week’s Players Championship – for updates on that race click here.
O’Sullivan’s next opponent will be Ben Mertens, the promising Belgian 18-year-old playing his first season on the pro tour. Mertens continued his best run in a ranking event with an impressive 4-3 success against David Gilbert, highlighted by a break of 130, his highest in a pro event.
“I played very well, it was a good game from both of us,” said Mertens. “I am really happy and feeling good. It will be special to play Ronnie. I have good memories of playing him (at the BetVictor English Open), I lost 4-3 so hopefully I can go one better this time. I learned a lot, it’s a different experience to playing anyone else. He is my idol and I look up to him.”
For the first time, there are three Belgian players in the last 32 of a ranking event, with Luca Brecel and BetVictor Shoot Out runner-up Julien LeClercq also in this round. Mertens added: “We all support each other and I think Belgium is very proud of us. There are a lot of good younger players there, snooker in Belgium is getting bigger. What Julien did in the Shoot Out was fantastic, he is one of my best friends and I was really pleased for him to get to a final.”
Four-time Crucible king Mark Selby suffered a 4-2 reverse against Robert Milkins, who maintains his good form having reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor German Masters. From 2-2, Milkins won the crucial fifth frame by clearing from yellow to pink, then close out the contest in style with a 137.
“I am winning a lot of matches despite not playing brilliant,” admitted Milkins. “My safety is always pretty good, it doesn’t go below a certain level and it has won me a lot of matches over the last year or so. When I was 19 or 20 I would see balls, pot them and make breaks. As you get older and you don’t see the balls so well, you naturally develop your safety, using side and seeing different angles.”
The result ends Selby’s hopes of winning the £150,000 BetVictor Series bonus at the end of this week, while Milkins is still in with a chance if he can capture the title. For updates on that race click here.
Joe Perry’s title defence was ended by a 4-1 defeat against Robbie Williams while BetVictor Scottish Open runner-up Joe O’Connor top scored with 93 in a 4-0 defeat of Stuart Carrington. Jak Jones beat LeClercq 4-2 with a top run of 74 and he’s one of two Welshmen left in the field, alongside Daniel Wells.