Snooker: O'Sullivan offers to 'walk away' after Chinese gaffe

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The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan yesterday admitted he has struggled to cope with the furore surrounding the lewd comments and sexual innuendos he made during a news conference in China. And the 32-year-old has volunteered to withdraw from tournaments if anyone has been offended by his antics after his loss to Marco Fu in the China Open in Beijing last month, when he also brandished a hand-held microphone suggestively.

Speaking after his 10-5 first-round win over Chinese teenager Liu Chuang in the World Championship in Sheffield, O'Sullivan said: "I regret it and it's been a great embarrassment to me personally. But I don't get how my reputation has been damaged in China, that's not what I've heard from people I've spoken to.

"It doesn't seem to be the case but if it was, I would not attend tournaments out of respect. The same with sponsors in this country, if they decide they don't want me in the game, just tell me. I'd be quite happy to walk away and find something else to do. I wouldn't want to be somewhere where I thought I was causing trouble."

Resuming against 17-year-old Liu with just a slender 5-4 lead, O'Sullivan won three of the afternoon's first four frames to banish any danger of the biggest shock in the game's history.

O'Sullivan was in a relaxed mood, playing several shots left-handed and then deliberately fouling on the last red with the 11th frame already secure by sprawling across the table with both feet off the floor.

Liu pulled one frame back before O'Sullivan took the 13th with a break of 65, then reeled off the next two frames to complete a 10-5 victory over the qualifier.

Defending champion John Higgins threatened to race away with his second-round tie with Wales' Ryan Day when he took the first four frames with breaks of 96, 53, 84 and 79. But Day then won three of the next four to trail just 5-3 going into today's second session in the best-of-25 match.