Ronnie O’Sullivan won’t reclaim the world no.1 ranking this week after a 6-3 loss to Neil Robertson in the Players Championship on Thursday.
With Mark Selby failing to qualify for the second leg of the Cazoo Series in Wolverhampton, O’Sullivan had the opportunity to return to the top spot for the first time since 2019.
The Rocket needed to win the Players Championship title and got off to the best possible start with a comprehensive 6-3 defeat of Judd Trump in the first round.
But the 46 year-old was not at his best in the quarter-final, with Robertson capitalising for a second victory over the six-time world champion in as many months.
A big break apiece meant both players got on the scoreboard early on, before O’Sullivan was left to rue a missed red in the third frame when it looked as though he might move in front.
From then on the World Grand Prix champion was always playing catch up, and Robertson was duly able to keep him at arm’s length.
O’Sullivan and Selby’s scrap for the world no.1 position in the rankings is likely to go on throughout the next few months with not much separating the pair in the standings.
For Robertson, the Australian is one step closer to securing a second notable piece of silverware this year already following his magnificent triumph in the Masters last month.
Celebrating his 40th birthday on Friday, the Thunder from Down Under will await the winner of the last quarter-final tie between John Higgins and Jimmy Robertson in the last four.
Earlier on day four, meanwhile, Barry Hawkins prevailed in a gripping and high-quality contest with Yan Bingtao in a decider.
Players Championship Quarter-Finals
(Times in GMT)
Barry Hawkins 6-5 Yan Bingtao
Ricky Walden 6-5 Mark Williams
Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-6 Neil Robertson
John Higgins vs Jimmy Robertson
Live coverage continues on ITV4 across Ireland and the UK, with other options around the world available.
Featured photo credit: WST