Hossein Vafaei
Non-Ranking, Snooker Headlines

Hossein Vafaei – ‘I love Ronnie, he’s my hero’

Hossein Vafaei says wants to leave his spat with Ronnie O’Sullivan in the past as he got his Shanghai Masters bid off to a strong start on Monday.

The Iranian was involved in a heavily hyped World Championship grudge match at the Crucible against O’Sullivan in April.

The build-up to their second round clash in Sheffield revolved around fiery quotes given on both sides, but the showdown was ultimately a one-sided affair won by the Rocket.

Following his 6-1 defeat of wildcard Gong Chenzhi in the last 24 of the Shanghai Masters, Vafaei said that he wants to move on but joked that he won’t be changing his ways.

“I’m so happy, this is myself. I’m not an actor, I’m a snooker player,” Hossein Vafaei told the World Snooker Tour.

“I love to be myself. If something is not right, I have to say it. The people accept or not accept it.”

“At the same time, we shouldn’t forget the respect as well. Let’s forget that (what happened with O’Sullivan). I’m going to make a new story again, maybe for someone else.

“Listen, I love Ronnie. He’s my hero, and I play snooker because of him. If he don’t be around snooker, who’s going to watch?

“Even myself, I’m one of his fans. Sometimes it happens in any family, but let’s forget it.”

Vafaei temporarily became a top 16 member for the first time in his career earlier this season, which helped him gain an invitation to compete in China this week.

Despite enduring a difficult journey, the 28 year-old is delighted to be back competing in the country for the first time in four years.

“This month was very strange for me. Lots of things were happening for me – flight cancelled, getting a passport very late.”

“Very difficult, but I managed to get another flight on the same day. Otherwise, if I was coming the next day, I could miss my match.

“I had to go collect my suitcase and enter the country again – the queue was very busy.

“Anyway, after a few years I’m back in China. I’m so happy we have tournaments again in China, they have always been great.

“They are hosting the tournaments very well. As players know, everyone wants to play here because the facility over here is completely different.

“As a snooker player, it’s like we’re in a different world. I have to say thank you to the China federation and all the sponsors who are supporting our sport in China.

“The opening ceremony is really nice, and that means they really care about us. It’s enjoyable to do things like this – the red carpet.

“It shows how big snooker is in this country, and we all want to be treated like this.”

Vafaei will play Mark Selby in the last 16 on Tuesday.

Shanghai Masters draw and schedule

Last 24 (bo11)

Ali Carter (11) 6-2 Dong Zihao
John Higgins (10) 6-0 Deng Haohui

Hossein Vafaei (16) 6-1 Gong Chenzhi
Jack Lisowski (13) 6-5 Zhou Yuelong

Gary Wilson (14) 2-6 Fan Zhengyi
Ding Junhui (15) 6-2 Si Jiahui

Robert Milkins (12) 6-1 Bai Yulu
Mark Williams (9) 6-1 Pang Junxu

Last 16 (bo11)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-3 Ali Carter (11)
Kyren Wilson (8) 3-6 John Higgins (10)

Mark Selby (5) 6-5 Hossein Vafaei (16)
Judd Trump (4) 6-5 Jack Lisowski (13)

Mark Allen (3) 3-6 Fan Zhengyi
Neil Robertson (6) 6-5 Ding Junhui (15)

Shaun Murphy (7) 5-6 Robert Milkins (12)
Luca Brecel (2) 6-4 Mark Williams (9)

Quarter-Finals (bo11)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-5 John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (5) 6-1 Judd Trump (4)

Fan Zhengyi 1-6 Neil Robertson (6)
Robert Milkins (12) 3-6 Luca Brecel (2)

Semi-Finals (bo19)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 10-7 Mark Selby (5)

Neil Robertson (6) 7-10 Luca Brecel (2)

Final (bo21)

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 11-9 Luca Brecel (2)

Featured photo credit: WST

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