Rusty Ronnie O’Sullivan slammed his lack of practice and admits he’s itching to get his hands on silverware after crashing out of the Masters against old foe John Higgins, writes Will Jennings.
The record seven-time champion was involved in a Friday night quarter-final thriller but was blown away by the Scot 6-3 in their 70th career meeting.
Four-time world champion Higgins struck breaks of 145, 134, 110 and 88 to repel O’Sullivan’s 125, 103 and 97 and prolong his wait for a first trophy since last summer’s World Championship.
Six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan says he came into the Milton Keynes major undercooked but is desperate to end his 2020-21 drought.
The 45-year-old said: “I got beat, it’s as simple as that.
“I’d rather play really terribly and win than play well and get beat. A loss is a loss. [I’ll] probably [have to] try and practice eight hours a day, nine hours a day.
“Six hours wasn’t enough for the last three weeks, so I’ll have to up my practice routine. He deserved his victory, and I made too many unforced errors.
“I haven’t really been beating the top players for quite a while apart from at Sheffield. Results speak for themselves and I haven’t won anything since Sheffield.
“I wouldn’t say it’s eating away at me but it would be nice to win some silverware.
“I’m going to have to keep putting the hours in on the practice table and hopefully things will turn around.”
Two-time Masters champion Higgins had urged fans to order beers and Chinese takeaways to enjoy the occasion – and it certainly did not disappoint under the Marshall Arena lights.
The decorated duo, who boast a total of ten world titles between them, served up a Friday night treat as they rattled off five consecutive centuries in a break-building masterclass.
The Rocket levelled at 3-3 after striking back-to-back hundreds but Higgins, who beat Sullivan 10-9 in an unforgettable 2006 final, accelerated towards the finish line in clinical fashion.
The Scot’s break of 145 was the fourth highest in Masters history on a day when Stephen Maguire – who made a 137 – and Yan Bingtao – who saw off Maguire with a 141 – had looked to have made the highest breaks of the 2021 tournament so far.
But it’s now Higgins who looks set to scoop the £15,000 bonus after downing old rival O’Sullivan, the current world No.3, on the Buckinghamshire bubble.
O’Sullivan hailed the performance of the evergreen world No.6 – and reckons he has a great chance of toppling David Gilbert and teeing up a shot at a first tournament title since 2018.
The 37-time ranking event winner added: “I’d love to see John win it, I really would.
“For John, for snooker, it would be fantastic to see him pick up silverware. He’s too good a player to not be winning silverware and if it wasn’t for Judd Trump, he probably would still be winning silverware.
“Even when John is 70, he could probably still play like that. The thing for John now, and he’ll know that, is that he’s got to play like that for the next two matches if he’s to win it.
“A slight dip in form and someone else can take advantage of it.”
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