Ronnie O’Sullivan has taken steps to end any feud with Hossein Vafaei after thrashing the Iranian 13-2 in Sheffield on Saturday.
The Rocket reached the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship with a dominant performance against the 28 year-old qualifier.
O’Sullivan looked in ominous mood right from the very first frame when he compiled a break of 78 to take the initiative.
When Vafaei opened the second frame with a rash pool-like break-off shot in retaliation to what O’Sullivan had done to him during last season’s German Masters qualifiers, the writing was already on the wall.
The world number one dished up with another 78 contribution, and thereafter it was one-way traffic as O’Sullivan steamrolled his way into the last eight.
Vafaei mustered two frames in the opening exchanges but was whitewashed in the second bout, with the reigning world champion sealing the humbling hiding with back-to-back tons.
The pair shared a warm embrace at the end of what had been billed as a grudge match at the Crucible Theatre.
“It was alright, it was alright. Yeah, I’m just pleased to be through,” Ronnie O’Sullivan told Rob Walker soon after a triumph that sets up a last-eight encounter with Luca Brecel.
“I’m pleased to be through, I’m loving playing. What more can I say, I’ve another match at the Crucible playing a phenomenal player.”
“He’s got an amazing talent, he’s always getting better. I love what Belgium snooker is doing with their players.
“He’s obviously had a big impact on that. You’ve got Ben Mertens and (Julien) Leclercq – I really like him. They are both strong, strong players. That’s all down to Luca.”
When pressed about his thoughts on the shenanigans involving Vafaei, O’Sullivan was dignified in his response.
“Listen, I’ve done the same didn’t I, years ago with Stephen Hendry,” the seven-time world champion admitted, referencing 2002 when he said he wanted to send Hendry back to his ‘sad little life’ in Scotland.
“I totally regretted it, I was pumped up by somebody else to say it, and it wasn’t really what I would have said.”
“When I said, I was like, why did I do that? Hendry didn’t talk to me for two years – he was my hero, why would I want to diss my hero?
“Two years later I apologised, and he said it was done and we were friends again. There’s no hard feelings from me, I love Hossein.
“I think he’s a great guy, a brilliant player. He deserves to do well, he hasn’t had it easy with his visa issues – travelling from tournaments to tournaments.
“It was heartbreaking sometimes watching what he had to go through, but he keeps doing it and he’s a strong guy.
“I think he’ll come back stronger. He’s a top 16 player, he’s well capable of being in the top 16. He’s had a good year and been playing a lot of matches, he’s young as well.”
Vafaei, meanwhile, said: “This sport needs characters. It needs someone to say something, otherwise it’s going to be very boring.”
“People come and don’t have any story to tell. At least people enjoyed it. I don’t care, win or lose, I lost to the greatest ever.”
Elsewhere on the middle Saturday of the 2023 World Snooker Championship, Jak Jones produced arguably the result of the tournament so far with a 13-7 defeat of Neil Robertson.
The Welshman controlled the affair from start to finish, and he joins a long list of Welsh players who have performed strongly on their debut in the event.
Jones matches the likes of Matthew Stevens, Jamie Jones, Michael White, and Lee Walker who all reached the same quarter-final stage on their maiden Crucible appearance.
Terry Griffiths, of course, went all the way to secure the title as a qualifier in 1979.
For the full World Snooker Championship draw, results, live scores, and session times, click here.
Featured photo credit: WST