Ronnie O’Sullivan took to Twitter before and after his first round match at the UK Championship, where he destroyed Boonyarit Kaettikun 6-0 in York.
It had been a while since headlines about O’Sullivan’s regular hints of retirement had surfaced but his odd musings on social media on Wednesday had some quarters second guessing his sentiments.
God was even front and centre as the five-time world champion quipped, “God has told me I should not play no more…But I’ve put that on the back burner for now..”
Of course, we have seen this type of behaviour before from the ‘Rocket’, usually as a self-inflicted distraction to take the heat away from his actual playing performance.
But the 40 year-old went and made headlines for the latter anyway, as he superbly routed Thailand’s Kaettikun with breaks of 129, 106, 103, 90, 80 and 63 to outscore his opponent 600-25.
O’Sullivan has contested more tournaments so far this season than in recent campaigns but his lack of silverware has proved irksome, highlighted especially by his tetchy mood following last week’s Northern Ireland Open exit to Kyren Wilson.
Best of 11s suit O’Sullivan down to the ground – not too short that decent players can get a jump on him, but also not too long where he’ll get overly bored with the outcome.
It wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see some more interesting comments from the former world no.1 during the next 10 days, but neither would a sixth UK crown etched on his CV either.
Meanwhile, the latest ranking event champion’s member in Mark King suffered a more unsurprising opening round defeat to Sam Craigie.
It was inevitably going to be difficult for the 42 year-old to repeat the highs of Belfast only a few days after his emotional victory, albeit he could have helped his cause a little if he hadn’t been so careless after the interval.
Trailing 3-1, King returned from the mid-session break only to realise he had forgot his cue.
By the time he had returned to the table, he was past the scheduled time to resume play and duly docked a frame by the referee.
King took his frustration out in the next frame with a tournament-high 141 but that was as good as it got as Snookerbacker Classic champion Craigie sealed a 6-2 triumph.
Other than that on a busy second day at the Barbican Centre, there weren’t really too many other upsets to speak of.
John Higgins was being held in the first six frames of his tie with Alex Borg but the Scot, who has already won a pair of lucrative invitationals this month, pulled away for a 6-3 victory.
That was the same scoreline that Shaun Murphy advanced with, recovering from 3-1 down to Itaro Santos of Brazil.
Mark Allen was also locked at 3-3 in his battle with Chen Zhe only to knock in a hat-trick of big tons – 137, 136 and 132 – to stun the Chinese with a blitz finish.
2015 runner-up Liang Wenbo enjoyed a much easier time of it as he hammered Kurt Dunham 6-1 while Ricky Walden and Luca Brecel went one better with respective whitewash wins.
Yet, Ireland’s Ken Doherty was on the wrong end of a 6-0 drubbing as he lost in tame fashion to Noppon Saengkham.
In doing so, the 1997 world champion’s rankings woes persist as he struggles to stay inside the top 64 – where a place on the Main Tour next season is guaranteed.
Elsewhere, Yan Bingtao edged Stuart Carrington 6-5 as he continues to enjoy his first season as a professional on the circuit.
The 16 year-old, winner of the World Cup in 2015 alongside fellow teenager Zhou Yuelong, has already reached four last 16s since June and is increasingly looking like a breakout star in the making.
Meanwhile, Anthony Hamilton couldn’t prolong his run of form that saw him agonisingly denied in a crushing semi-final defeat to Barry Hawkins at the Titanic on Saturday, with the ‘Sherrif’ gunned down in a lengthy battle 6-3.
Matthew Selt also crashed out as he was beaten 6-2 by Michael Georgiou, who now represents Cyprus.
Among the other competitors to book their spots in round two were Martin Gould, Robert Milkins, Ben Woollaston and David Gilbert.
The last 128 will reach its conclusion on Thursday when the likes of reigning champion Neil Robertson, world no.1 Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham enter the fray.