Snooker: O'Sullivan beaten by qualifier in surprise first-round defeat

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The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan suffered a shock 9-6 defeat to qualifier Stuart Bingham last night in the first round of the UK Championship.

The three-time former world champion looked to be fending off Bingham's threat when he moved from the overnight score of 4-4 to a 6-4 lead with breaks of 62 and 77.

However, the 35-year-old, a day after his birthday, then dropped five frames in a row to make his early exit. Bingham did not even need to score heavily to take the frames, his highest break in the run being a modest 48 to O'Sullivan's paltry 24.

Bingham, 34, has caused shocks in the past, notably when he ousted defending champion Stephen Hendry from the World Championship in the first round in 2000. The world No 23 was unimpressed by O'Sullivan after his victory.

"When you fluke a ball or fluke a snooker, 99 out of 100 players apologise to their opponent, but Ronnie doesn't do that," Bingham said. "Before the match I said to my manager that if I get a fluke and say sorry, he can slap me round the face. A couple of times in the match Ronnie fluked a ball and never said a word. We used to practise together, he would text me and ask if I wanted a game. But he hasn't texted me for nearly a year."

O'Sullivan said: "I was second to the punch all day and felt as if I was being bullied around the table."

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