Ronnie O’Sullivan has withdrawn from the WST Classic for medical reasons, the World Snooker Tour has revealed on Sunday.
The world number one was set to play David Grace in the last 64 of the ranking event in Leicester having already beaten Mohamed Ibrahim in the first round.
Grace will now receive a bye through to the last 32 of the competition at the Morningside Arena, where he’ll face either Jamie Jones or Hammad Miah.
O’Sullivan needed to win the WST Classic to give himself an opportunity of qualifying for the lucrative Tour Championship later in March.
The Rocket is now guaranteed to miss out on the eight-player field in Hull, with his next appearance in the 2022/23 campaign likely to be at the Crucible Theatre when he makes his bid for an eighth World Championship crown.
“Really disappointed but have had to pull out because of an elbow injury and hope to be back asap,” the defending world champion wrote on Twitter.
It has been a disappointing term for the Englishman in ranking events, with only two quarter-finals to show for his efforts.
O’Sullivan did manage two triumphs earlier in the season, however, with successes in the invitational Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions.
The WST Classic is on the schedule as a late replacement for the Turkish Masters, which was cancelled in January.
The majority of the tournament is being staged behind closed doors, although fans will be welcomed for the final three rounds on Wednesday.
Several heavy hitters remain involved, including world number two Mark Selby, reigning Masters champion Judd Trump, and recent Players Championship winner Shaun Murphy.
Mark Allen, who is the only player this season to have won multiple ranking titles, is also still in contention for the £80,000 top prize.
WST Classic draw (L64)
David Grace w/o Ronnie O’Sullivan
Hammad Miah vs Jamie Jones
Gary Wilson vs Yuan Sijun
Steven Hallworth vs Cao Yupeng
Allan Taylor vs Lukas Kleckers
Elliot Slessor vs Haydon Pinhey
Liam Highfield vs Zhou Yuelong
Jackson Page vs Mark Williams
Judd Trump vs Wu Yize
Joe Perry vs Jimmy White
Jack Lisowski vs Si Jiahui
Ben Mertens vs Pang Junxu
Ben Woollaston vs Hossein Vafaei
Scott Donaldson vs Barry Hawkins
Lyu Haotian vs Joe O’Connor
Oliver Lines vs Neil Robertson
Mark Allen vs Mark Davis
Noppon Saengkham vs Fan Zhengyi
Stuart Bingham vs Matthew Stevens
Anthony McGill vs Martin Gould
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh vs Xu Si
Muhammad Asif vs Ali Carter
Anthony Hamilton vs Matthew Selt
James Cahill vs Shaun Murphy
Kyren Wilson vs Stuart Carrington
Chris Wakelin vs Tian Pengfei
John Higgins vs Mark Joyce
Andrew Pagett vs Jamie Clarke
Jak Jones vs David Gilbert
Robbie Williams vs Robert Milkins
Stephen Maguire vs Daniel Wells
Zhang Anda vs Mark Selby
Featured photo credit: WST