Ronnie O’Sullivan voices Covid-19 concerns after encounter with ‘boozed up geezer’

Six-time champion through to second round at the Crucible after win over Mark Joyce

Ronnie O’Sullivan looks on after playing a shot during the World Snooker Championships at The Crucible, Sheffield. Photo: George Wood/PA Wire

Ronnie O’Sullivan looks on after playing a shot during the World Snooker Championships at The Crucible, Sheffield. Photo: George Wood/PA Wire

 

Ronnie O’Sullivan gave the returning Crucible fans a treat by firing three consecutive centuries to wrap up a first round win over Mark Joyce on Saturday — but fears their overenthusiasm could wreck his bid for a seventh world crown.

O’Sullivan revealed he was accosted on Saturday in a “nightmare” incident at a city centre restaurant, and will now cut back his appearances in public in order to minimise the risk of being forced to withdraw due to a positive test later in the tournament.

O’Sullivan, who said that two members of the restaurant’s staff had been forced to intervene, added: “Ninety-nine per cent of the people are fine but it’s just the odd one who was a bit boozed up and having a mental one. It was so busy and this geezer was a nightmare.

“He was p***ed up and coming at me and I was like, ‘mate, please.‘ What can you do? I’ve got to stay indoors and stay away.

“If I didn’t have to be clean for this tournament it wouldn’t matter, but if I reached the quarter-finals it would be a sickener to have to pull out. As a sportsman I can’t work if I get ill so that’s my only problem.”

Nevertheless O’Sullivan hailed the return of fans to the famous venue, which was filled to 33 per cent capacity as part of a pilot scheme surrounding the return of fans to sporting events, after turning on the style to claim a 10-4 win.

Despite establishing a 6-3 lead O’Sullivan has struggled in an error-strewn opening session, but ended it by becoming only the eighth player to make three consecutive Crucible centuries as breaks of 124, 137 and 112 finally saw him ease over the line.

O’Sullivan added: “It was great to have the crowd in there, they miss their snooker and I probably would have given up mentally in that match if there was no crowd there.

“I’d have thought, I’ll get out of here and go home and do a bit of punditry, but because the crowd are here you feel you’ve got to perform because they’ve paid their money and come out to watch.

“When I think back to my great matches and you see the crowd’s faces and the pleasure that you give them when you play an unbelievable performance, that sticks in your mind that that’s what I’m here to do.”

With sanitiser stations provided around the venue, fans had their tickets scanned before sitting in designated seats, socially distanced.

World Snooker Tour confirmed it had issued written advice to players prior to the tournament to “be careful” when they are in public areas.

On Sunday, successive century breaks from Yan Bingtao helped him ease past Martin Gould.

Resuming at 4-4 from Saturday’s opening session, the world number 10 dominated proceedings at the Crucible and breaks of 130 and 116 in frames 11 and 12 put him on the road to a 10-6 victory.

Anthony McGill holds a slender 5-4 advantage after the first session of his first-round match with Ricky Walden.

Walden posted successive centuries in a run of three frames in a row to go 3-2 in front before McGill hit back, scoring 119 and then an 88.

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