Luca Brecel knocked out the reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan from the World Snooker Championship and then revealed he got “drunk as hell” ahead of their quarter-final.
The 28-year-old Belgian has built a reputation as a mercurial talent with the ability to succeed at the highest level but not always the application to go with it. Yet he produced arguably the performance of his career at the Crucible Theatre on Wednesday, rattling off seven frames in a row to knock out the favourite O’Sullivan, who had been chasing an unprecedented eighth world title in the modern era.
Afterwards, Brecel revealed his unorthodox preparation away from the table. “Before the tournament I was out partying, staying up late to 6 or 7am, playing Fifa with my friends, not practising,” Brecel told BBC Sport. “Even after I beat Mark Williams [in the second round] I got home at 7am by car, and then we went out again until 5 or 6 in the morning, drunk as hell. The next day, I had to drive back up again, so it’s a totally different preparation, and it’s working.”
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, looked a shadow of his best self but graciously credited Brecel for his performance. “He played unbelievable, I love watching him play,” O’Sullivan said. “Such a dynamic player, full of talent, probably the most talented player I’ve ever seen and hopefully he goes on and wins it, it would be good for snooker.
“If I’d have put up any resistance, if I’d put some balls away, but I just wasn’t playing well enough to have an impact on the game. If it was a boxing match they would have stopped it very early on. I was just pinching frames and hanging on. There’s only so much hanging on you can do at the Crucible. It catches up with you at some point, and someone will eventually put you away.”
Mark Allen reached the semi-finals for just the second time in his career with a hard-fought win over qualifier Jak Jones. Allen was far from his fluent best and made just one break over 70 but took advantage of a nervy display in the final session from debutant Jones to secure a 13-10 victory.
“It was never in doubt, was it?” a relieved Allen joked after reaching the last four at the Crucible for the first time since 2009. “It was a complete slog, to be honest. The first session was really good but I was awful after that and it was just a matter of digging deep, trying to stay as positive as possible and trying to get 13 frames. That’s what I did.
“I felt like as the match went on he was getting more edgy but I wasn’t playing well enough to capitalise, so it was just a matter of staying patient and taking my chances when they came. It wasn’t pretty, I’m sure it wasn’t pretty to watch but I couldn’t care less. I’m in the semis.
“I don’t mean this to sound bad to Jak, but that was like a three or four out of 10 performance. That really wasn’t good. But mentally I was like a 12 out of 10 and ready for anything.”
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