UK Snooker Championship LIVE: Ronnie O’Sullivan dramatically beats Zhou Yuelong in tight quarter-final

O’Sullivan edges past Zhou 6-5 for a place in the semi-finals at the York Barbican as Hossein Vafaei beats Zhang Anda 6-4

Luke Baker,Harry Latham-Coyle
Friday 01 December 2023 17:14 GMT
Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals he was 'on phone to Samaritans' at snooker world championships

Ronnie O’Sullivan returned to action at the UK Snooker Championship with a dramatic win to book his place in the semi-finals at the York Barbican. O’Sullivan is bidding for an eighth UK Championship crown this week but for the second round in a row needed a deciding frame to advance, as he fought his way past Zhou Yuelong 6-5.

‘The Rocket’ got off to a flyer as he raced into a 3-0 lead, including a break of 125 in the opening frame, and then led 4-1. But Zhou hit back with four frames on the spin as the wheels came off the O’Sullivan train and he seemed destined for defeat at 5-4 behind.

But, as he has so often done before, he found another gear to level the match at 5-5 and then a ruthless break of 122 in the decider sealed the deal and set up a semi-final clash with Hossein Vafaei, in a rematch of their fiery World Championship clash from earlier this year.

“Technically I was all over the gaff,” said O’Sullivan after his win. “Out of desperation, I started to play alright in the last two frames. Before that, I was going through the motions. I was so frustrated and so disappointed with how I played, that didn’t feel any pressure. I wasn’t nervous, he was playing better and I deserved to lose. “

Relive the action from the UK Championship below:


Ronnie O’Sullivan on next opponent Hossein Vafaei

O’Sullivan will play Hossein Vafaei in the semi-finals after the Iranian star dispatched Zhang Anda 6-4 on the other table. O’Sullivan and Vafaei had a dramatic contest at the World Championship earlier this year where the Iranian smashed the balls open on a break after feeling slighted that Ronnie had done similar to him in a previous match.

O’Sullivan went on to win at a canter but Vafaei has been in great form this week and ‘The Rocket’ admits it won’t be easy against ‘The Prince of Persia’.

“He’s playing great,” added O’Sullivan. “I think he’s a fantastic player. He’s got that killer instinct, he’s not scared of anyone, he attacks the game.

“That was an unbelievable win today - a proper win today. Anyone beating Anda the way he’s playing at the moment has to be good. A great win for Hossein - I’m going to have to play really well, he’s scoring really heavily.”

Luke Baker1 December 2023 17:07

Ronnie O’Sullivan claims opponents are ‘like grandchildren' to him

O’Sullivan opened up with a stunning 125 break but claimed there were “lots of dodgy shots” in that break. He also felt the pressure of crowd expectation.

“When you’re cueing well, you have loads of gears to play around with, you’re cruising,” added O’Sullivan on the BBC. “But I struggled today.

“When the crowd are expecting you to do something, you have an obligation to perform. When you’re not, there’s a bit of pressure.

“To get into the semis, I’ve done amazing so far. I’m pleased to be in semis. You go through all sort of emotions.

“I feel quite old out there, playing. I don’t want to become a sad case out there. I love snooker but playing the young guys, they’re really hungry - it doesn’t stop. The players are like grandchildren to me. It’s tough.

“I want to enjoy it but it’s hard work out there. I was a little bit embarrassed at times. Missing so many balls, I was thinking ‘wow!’

Luke Baker1 December 2023 17:03

Ronnie O’Sullivan reacts to beating Zhou Yuelong

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been in the BBC studio reacting to his win and it’s the usual mix insight and baffling statements from ‘The Rocket’...

“Technically I was all over the gaff,” said O’Sullivan. “Out of desperation I started to play alright in the last two frames. Before that I was going through the motions.

“In the last two frames, I thought just commit. A lot of shots I was hitting wrong but if you can get on a committing buzz, that’s the way to play. Otherwise, things start to play on your mind.

“I was so frustrated and so disappointed with how I played, that didn’t feel any pressure. I wasn’t nervous, he was playing better and I deserved to lose. But the last two frames, I was committed, I was getting through ball and getting the right amount of spin.”

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:58

RESULT! Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 Zhou Yuelong

A black off the 14th red takes him beyond the 100 mark. What a way to finish! Final red then rolled into the right corner and he can enjoy a victory lap on the colours.

The pink is on the right cushion and he can’t pot it but it doesn’t matter at all. A 122 break to seal the win and two brilliant frames from ‘The Rocket’ at the end


Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:45

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

And that’s it! Working with the black he moves beyond the snookers required stage. What a break this is. Into the 80s, then the 90s. The crowd are desperate for a century to finish.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:42

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

The reds are oh so inviting in the centre of the table and O’Sullivan is looking ominous. He’s moved up a gear since falling 5-4 down. As the break reaches 50, he splits the remaining reds with a clever cannon.

He should win from here now - they’re all there for him.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:41

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

O’Sullivan picks off a couple of reds to move the break to 22 and then tries to screw off the pack and open a couple up as he pots a red. Not ideal, leaves himself a long blue to the yellow pocket. And it’s only ever in the heart, good shot and back in prime position.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:39

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

That containing safety leaves O’Sullivan a pot to the yellow pocket. He rolls the red dead-weight and it’s in! First chance to Ronnie.

Nicely on the blue and now he gets to work. Can he finish this in one visit? A few loose reds and an inviting pack to crash into.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:38

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

Early safety exchanges are solid for both men. Zhou takes a long, hard look at a pot to the right corner but opts for the containing safety instead, leaving the cue ball down the business end of the table.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:37

Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-5 Zhou Yuelong

Right. Here we go, decider time! The momentum was all with Zhou as he came from behind to lead 5-4 but O’Sullivan forcing the decider may mean that he has the upper hand?

Or the whole concept of momentum is largely nonsense and we fit it neatly around the result after the fact... Who can tell.

Luke Baker1 December 2023 16:34

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