By Joshua Dykes
With the departure of Neil Robertson the previous night almost everyone’s eyes are now one this man – Ronnie O’Sullivan. With 30 ranking titles and the world record for the shortest ever maximum 147 break at five minutes and 20 seconds, today’s line up against Michael White was sure to please the eager crowds at The Barbican.
White has had to break through three tight matches to get to this stage, the first of which turned into a nail-biting dogfight that finished with him winning the deciding frame at 6-5. As the match started to unfold we looked to be in for another scrap as the frames were tied at one each with both players playing snooker that felt reasonably scrappy.
But the highlight was a stunning 132 break in the third frame to put O’Sullivan 2-1 up. The Rocket stole the fourth as White missed what seemed like a simple red into the middle leaving Ronnie to tidy up with a respectable break of 64, going into the mid-session interval with a comfortable 3-1 lead.
Sullivan was now just two frames away from the fourth round as number five fell his way with a pleasant break of 71 that left White nowhere to be seen. White needed to pull his concentration and nerves together as he would have felt disappointed with a maximum break of 51 so far and a long put success of below 80%. A nice opportunity arose, however, a simple red wobbled the jaw from Ronnie after the first two pots of the sixth frame opening up a fantastic opportunity to build a stronger break.
Ronnie showed his charm throughout the game but nothing came across more comedic as his attempt to hit a brown on the far side of the table from a snookered position where he didn’t move an inch throughout both attempts as the referee moved the ball back.
Normally such a proficient long potter, Michael White had many chances in this frame to put reds that were tricky but he said post-match: “I don’t think it was my long game, I just didn’t score high.”
In all the five times champion was starting to show a lack focus as he was feeling quite complacent with the match and it was easy to detect the level of frustration that Michael had with himself as he conceded the frame which was made completely transparent as he digressed “He’s an idol of mine, I just wanted to put on a bit of a show but unfortunately, I never turned up and it’s bitterly frustrating”. The snooker didn’t seem like that of world-class talent from either player but the score now had now turned a rather bleak tide, at 5-1.
In the finale, Ronnie demonstrated why he is named ‘The Rocket’ slotting down a quick 65 break to seal his place in the fourth round but he had sympathy for Michael. He said: “He got loads of bad luck as well and I felt for him.” He added:“It can be frustrating out there and I wasn’t brilliant but I think I scrambled a bit better.” Ronnie will now face off against strong opposition in the form of Barry Hawkins (10th seed) or Sunny Akani (87th seed).
By Joshua Dykes