Ronnie O’Sullivan has announced he will not defend his Roewe Shanghai Masters title next week.
The world number two defeated Liang Wenbo in last year’s final but instead of travelling to China again he intends to spend time with his family.
O’Sullivan, 34, said: “This has been a very difficult decision to make, however I have a very young family and at this moment I need to spend more time with them.
“I’m truly sorry to my fans in China, I love meeting and playing in front of some of the most passionate people in the world. I very much look forward to returning to China soon.”
World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn reacted to the absence of the crowd favourite, remarking: “It’s very disappointing for his fans in China but we understand the personal reasons behind Ronnie’s withdrawal.”