Snooker: 'Rocket' blasts off during TV interview

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The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan took an angry potshot at the television interviewer Rob Walker yesterday after cruising into the quarter-finals of this year's World Championship here in Sheffield. "The Rocket" clinched a 13-10 victory over Mark Williams but was angered by the question: "You are sometimes your own harshest critic, did you enjoy that out there?"

O'Sullivan snapped: "If someone says that to me again I'm going to stop the interview because I'm fed up of hearing that. I'm not my own harshest critic, but when you play pathetic shots you don't want to play. I don't listen to what everyone keeps saying that I'm own harshest critic because you don't know what you're talking about."

The Chigwell cueman was decidedly downbeat despite his win – and Williams hit a recurring chord when he predicted it is the three-times champion's tournament to lose. "The only person who's going to beat him in this year's World Championship is himself," Williams said. "Everything about his game is just spot on. He was outstanding. You've just got to take your hat off to him for some of the shots and the clearances he was pulling off. I had four centuries in the match, but what can you do? You've just got to sit there and say, 'Well done'."

Locked at 8-8 overnight, O'Sullivan dominated the concluding session of the pair's last 16 match and will now lock horns with Mark Selby in a repeat of this season's Masters final later this week.

"I knew that I needed to find some form so out of sheer panic and desperation I played well," said O'Sullivan, who pocketed breaks of 53, 104, 75, 111 and 106 to make sure of the five frames he needed for victory. "It was nice to play well for a change. I wouldn't say it was really flowing, but I clicked into a bit of a gear. I'm not getting too upbeat about it. It was nice to come through a tough match against a quality player. It's not all doom and gloom, but I'm still capable of throwing in a decent performance."

Despite O'Sullivan's determination to play down his performance, snooker's top draw shrugged off a gutsy challenge from Williams. But prone to self-doubt and lapses in concentration, O'Sullivan still doesn't believe his game is suited to winning the famous Crucible crown.

"I didn't play well winning any of my world finals. There were spells when I felt OK, but to be honest I couldn't wait to get out of there," he added. "I'm trying to enjoy it [this year's tournament], but it's hard too because there's a lot of nerves out there because there's so much pressure on you.

"I've thrown a few world titles away before. I know why but I can't cure it and I've accepted that. I never underestimate my own ability, but for me it's about how good my good game is. I can never allow myself to get too confident. I'm surprised I've won three titles with my game."

O'Sullivan couldn't even get excited about next playing Selby, who fought back from 9-6 down to upset O'Sullivan with a 10-9 victory in this season's Masters final. Any thoughts of revenge against the Leicester cueman were far from his mind. "I've played too many up-and-down games to even think about getting excited any more," he said. "I know I can do it [win the title], but it would be a lot easier on the nerves if I could find a bit of form. It would be nice to be able to keep applying pressure to my opponents but I haven't been able to do that for a long time."

Ali Carter survived a spirited comeback from Joe Perry to go through. He clinched a 13-11 victory despite Perry battling back from 10-6 down to win five frames on the spin and edge 11-10 ahead. He will meet Shaun Murphy, the 2005 Crucible winner, who booked his place in the quarter-finals with a 13-10 victory over Ding Junhui.