by Tom Pritchard
FOUR-time Welsh Open champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was knocked out of this year’s tournament at the last 32 stage, as Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher provided an upset at the Motorpoint Arena.
The Rocket got off to a flyer, winning the first frame with a break of 118, before Ursenbacher hit back with a break of 70 to level the match at one apiece.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan responded with a break of 63 to edge the third frame, the last frame of the match that he would win.
The Swiss would go on to out-score O’Sullivan by 235 points to 36 in the final three frames, as he caused an upset to book his place in the last 16 – where he will face 22-year-old Zhao Xintong, who saw off Jimmy Robertson earlier today.
Reflecting on a disappointing defeat, O’Sullivan, 43, said: “I think the better man won on the day, he played a really good game.
“He potted some really good balls, and played with complete freedom and abandonment – which is a fantastic way to approach any game.”
— Callum Ellis (@CallumJEllis) February 14, 2019
“I’ve got nothing but praise for Ursenbacher, he’s great to watch, I actually enjoyed watching him!”
The World Championship gets underway on April 20, and the Rocket is looking forward to the quest for his sixth title.
“I’m really excited. As I’ve said, my attitude won’t change, if I can keep my tour card, stay in the top 64 and play whenever I feel like it that’s great for me.”
Despite the disappointment of a defeat in the early stages, O’Sullivan has enjoyed the week and the time he has spent in Cardiff: “I love it here, I’ve had a brilliant week.
“As you can tell, I’ve been really excited about being here, I’m so happy now because I’ve got another three or four days where I can watch some good snooker and do some punditry.”
Reflecting on the tournament, O’Sullivan concluded: “It’s a great tournament, and there are some good players that are in good form.
“There’s a couple of them that I’m looking forward to watching from a snooker fan’s perspective.’