Cork rookie Aaron Hill ready for 'dream' date with Ronnie O’Sullivan

The 18-year-old will face the six-time world champion in the European Masters second round
Cork rookie Aaron Hill ready for 'dream' date with Ronnie O’Sullivan

Aaron Hill is in his first season as a professional.

Aaron Hill is recovering from Covid chaos at the European Masters — but also relishing a clash with legend Ronnie O’Sullivan on Thursday.

The 18-year-old tour rookie from Cork is in his first season as a professional and has made it through to the second round with an impressive win over Andy Hicks.

Hill, travelling on his own, held himself together superbly well on Tuesday night after a crazy day that saw five players forced to withdraw.

Gary Wilson and Daniel Wells failed tests, while three others — Michael White, David Lilley, and Elliot Slessor — had been in contact with them.

They were the first players to fail a coronavirus test and Hill admitted events had left him shocked.

However, he has been handed the perfect pick-me-up in the shape of a first-ever meeting with boyhood idol and six-time world champion O’Sullivan.

World No2 O’Sullivan moved to within one World Championship success of record-holder Stephen Hendry by lifting the trophy again last month.

Hill said: “It is an absolute dream come true to be playing the Rocket in a big TV table match at a major ranking tournament.

“He was always my hero, and this match is something I have dreamed about all my life. I won’t be afraid, I will go out there and enjoy it.

There is no pressure on me at all, I have nothing to lose and hopefully I can relax and play well and rattle him. You can’t be in awe of him, just one ball and one frame at a time.

“He just has the ultimate snooker brain and can make any shot in the game. He is a joy to watch, and I love watching him play.

“If I could have picked anyone to play, it would have been Ronnie and I’m so pleased that I have got the chance to play him so early in my career.

“Tuesday was a strange day with the five players having to go home after either failing a Covid test or being in contact with them.

“I just feel really bad for them, it’s not a nice thing to happen. You wish they recover quickly and I look to seeing them back on the table very soon.

“You could catch a more nervous vibe around the arena yesterday after it happened. Everyone got a shock, only a couple of days ago they were here looking forward to the tournament.

“There can’t be a worse feeling. But it has given everyone a wake-up call to be even more aware of that is around us.

“It is nice to get a good start to my first season as a professional. I won a match in my Championship League group earlier this month, and now a good victory here in the European Masters.

“I know I can compete on the tour when I am on my game, it is good enough so it is more a question of finding my feet and settling down.

“There have been some nerves to this point, but they start going away once I find some form.”

Meanwhile, Ken Doherty made his highest break for four years in a 5-0 win over Farakh Ajaib.

The former world champion knocked in a superb 134 against the tour rookie and former butcher from Accrington.

And that was the 51-year-old’s best effort since a 138 in the International Championship against Allan Taylor in 2016.

Doherty said: 

I think the last 134 I got was a bus! It was nice to get a good start and play well though.

“I have been practising in the Ding Junhui Academy a bit, and also playing with Jimmy White at his place.

“I may base myself over here a bit more for practice this season, my son has started school in England and I’d like to be close to him.”

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