Snooker: O’Sullivan not planning to hang around at the start

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN makes his first appearance in this season’s UK Championship today in York and does not plan to hang around.

O’Sullivan is one of snooker’s Fab Four whose second-round games have been held back so they can be shown at the start of BBC TV’s coverage of the €880,000 event.

The Rocket meets hot potter Ian McCulloch who defeated Preston rival Stuart Pettman in his opening match on Wednesday.

McCulloch fancies his chances of causing an upset and could do worse than try and put the brakes on last Sunday’s British Open runner-up.

“I hate slow players,” said the world number three who became UK champion in 1993 at the age of 17.

“They are so negative and boring and make people switch the snooker off the television. They should be banned,” added O’Sullivan in all seriousness.

“Without the exciting players like myself, Paul Hunter, Jimmy White, John Higgins, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams, the sport wouldn’t survive.

“I don’t like playing slow but in Brighton last week I was grinding it out because I didn’t think I’d reach the final,” he said.

O’Sullivan finished second best to Hendry on the south coast but he played his part in a brilliant final which included a record-breaking five successive century breaks.

Hendry, fives times winner of the UK crown, won the match 9-6 and contributed a total of four centuries to the game. But defending UK champion Williams believes his Scottish stablemate has played better in the past.

Ahead of his best of 17-frames encounter with Fergal O’Brien, the world number one said: “I watched some of the final while I was having a game of poker and there seemed to be a century every frame.

“He’s in great form but if he was playing like he was when he was at the very top he’d have to give the rest of us a start every frame. He was that good. I heard some commentators saying it was a blessing that his cue got broken. I thought it was laughable.

“He’s won all those tournaments and all that prize money with the old cue and people are saying he should be thankful,” said Williams.

Hendry, who faces old adversary John Parrott, and Williams could meet in another dream final next Sunday but the likes of O’Sullivan and John Higgins may have other ideas.

Higgins lost to Hendry in the quarter-finals at Brighton and it is two years and a month since his last ranking tournament victory.

In both the British Open and the LG Cup, he compiled maximum 147 breaks but could not go on and lift the trophy.

Thailand’s James Wattana provides the opposition for the 28-year-old world number four. Both Higgins and O’Sullivan only play eight frames today and conclude their games on Sunday. Hendry and Williams play to a finish tonight.

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