Ronnie O'Sullivan
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‘I’ve suffered from stage fright’ – Ronnie O’Sullivan withdraws from Welsh Open

Ronnie O’Sullivan has withdrawn from next week’s Welsh Open, citing an ongoing battle with stage fright.

The world number one, who has been in flying form this season, won’t feature in the ranking event that commences on Monday in Llandudno.

O’Sullivan has enjoyed a prolific 2023/24 snooker season in which he has captured titles in four notable tournaments.

After triumphing at the Shanghai Masters in September, the 48 year-old secured back-to-back Triple Crown titles with his wins at the UK Championship and the Masters.

Following those successes, O’Sullivan also beat Judd Trump to land the World Grand Prix crown last month.

However, the Englishman has also frequently pulled out of events during this campaign – citing illnesses and mental health concerns.

Indeed, this will be his seventh withdrawal from a ranking event this term, while O’Sullivan also skipped his defence of the Champion of Champions in November.

“Morning guys,” Ronnie O’Sullivan, a four-time Welsh Open champion, posted on his various social media channels.

“I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided I’m not able to play in Llandudno next week.”

“It’s hard to explain, but for years I’ve suffered from stage fright at times, brought on by anxiety.

“It’s not something I can predict or control, but I try to manage it as best as I can.

“I’m sorry to everyone who’s bought tickets, but I can’t get my cue out when I feel like this, and I think this (is) what’s best for me right now.

“I still want to be around the tournament, so I’ll be doing some work with Eurosport, and I hope to see you all there.”

O’Sullivan’s opponent at the Venue Cymru in the held-over round-of-128 fixture was due to be Liam Graham.

The young Scot was also set to play O’Sullivan in the Scottish Open in December, only for the seven-time world champion to withdraw at the last minute.

“It’s disrespectful what he’s done, it’s not right,” Graham said at the Scottish Open, as quoted by the Daily Record.

“A lot of people took time off work to come and watch today and it’s disappointing.”

“At the end of the day I want to play the best players in the world and I was really looking forward to it.

“I had a lot of people coming to watch and it’s really disappointing for them. It’s not surprising given the things he does.

“I found out when I got to the venue this morning. I didn’t have much prior warning, I think he pulled out very late.

“I would have stayed at home and all the people who have travelled to watch me would have come another day as well.”

The announcement from Ronnie O’Sullivan means that both of this season’s in-form stars won’t be cueing up in Llandudno.

World number two Trump, the winner of four ranking titles this season including in Berlin a week ago, also withdrew a few days ago.

That leaves Mark Allen as the highest ranked contender in the field, with world champion Luca Brecel also set to participate.

The Welsh Open begins on Monday, with the champion to be crowned next Sunday.

2024 Welsh Open draw

Round of 128 (bo7)

Robert Milkins 4-3 Jamie Jones
Allan Taylor 4-2 Haydon Pinhey
David Gilbert 4-0 Ken Doherty
Oliver Lines 4-3 Michael White
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Oliver Brown
Liam Pullen 4-0 Rebecca Kenna
Gary Wilson 4-1 Mark Davis
Iulian Boiko 4-0 Ishpreet Singh Chadha

Long Zehuang 4-1 Andy Lee
Anthony McGill 4-1 Manasawin Phetmalaikul
Sanderson Lam 4-0 Baipat Siripaporn
Mark Williams 4-2 John Astley
Matthew Stevens 4-3 Louis Heathcote
Ricky Walden 4-2 Andy Hicks
Stuart Carrington 4-2 Reanne Evans
Neil Robertson 4-1 Jackson Page

Mark Allen 4-3 Cao Yupeng
Ma Hailong 4-2 Rory Thor
Si Jiahui 4-2 Stephen Maguire
Andrew Pagett 4-2 Mink Nutcharut
Ding Junhui 4-2 Jenson Kendrick
Robbie Williams 4-0 Peng Yisong
Adam Duffy 4-0 Zhou Yuelong
Jamie Clarke 4-3 James Cahill

David Lilley 4-0 Victor Sarkis
Ryan Day 4-3 Mostafa Dorgham
Tian Pengfei 4-0 Rod Lawler
John Higgins 4-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Ross Muir 4-2 Stephen Hendry
Matthew Selt 4-3 Sam Craigie
Alexander Ursenbacher 0-4 Liam Davies
Duane Jones 4-2 Liam Highfield

Alfie Davies 4-1 Liam Graham
Dominic Dale 4-1 Jimmy White
Jordan Brown 4-3 Lyu Haotian
Stan Moody 4-2 Sean O’Sullivan
Zhang Anda 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Jak Jones 4-3 Liu Hongyu
Hossein Vafaei 4-1 Scott Donaldson
Julien Leclercq 4-3 Alfie Burden

Dylan Emery 4-1 Fergal O’Brien
Noppon Saengkham 4-1 Himanshu Jain
Andrew Higginson 4-2 Xing Zihao
Ali Carter 1-4 Elliot Slessor
Ben Mertens 4-0 Hammad Miah
Fan Zhengyi 4-2 Joe Perry
Aaron Hill 4-0 Anton Kazakov
Mark Selby 4-2 Yuan Sijun

Shaun Murphy 3-4 Barry Pinches
Daniel Wells 4-2 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Marco Fu 4-1 Stuart Bingham
Zak Surety 4-2 Mark Joyce
Kyren Wilson 4-3 Ashley Carty
Anthony Hamilton 4-0 Andres Petrov
Chris Wakelin 4-0 Jimmy Robertson
Martin O’Donnell 4-3 Ryan Thomerson

Ian Burns 4-2 Lukas Kleckers
Tom Ford 4-3 Ben Woollaston
Xiao Guodong 4-3 Ashley Hugill
Barry Hawkins 4-0 He Guoqiang
Wu Yize 4-1 Sydney Wilson
Graeme Dott 4-3 Pang Junxu
Joe O’Connor 4-3 Xu Si
Luca Brecel 4-3 Jiang Jun

Round of 64 (bo7)

Robert Milkins 4-1 Allan Taylor
David Gilbert 4-2 Oliver Lines
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Liam Pullen
Gary Wilson 4-2 Iulian Boiko
Long Zehuang 1-4 Anthony McGill
Sanderson Lam 3-4 Mark Williams
Matthew Stevens 3-4 Ricky Walden
Stuart Carrington 3-4 Neil Robertson

Mark Allen 4-0 Ma Hailong
Si Jiahui 4-2 Andrew Pagett
Ding Junhui 2-4 Robbie Williams
Adam Duffy 4-0 Jamie Clarke
David Lilley 2-4 Ryan Day
Tian Pengfei 1-4 John Higgins
Ross Muir 1-4 Matthew Selt
Liam Davies 1-4 Duane Jones

Alfie Davies 3-4 Dominic Dale
Jordan Brown 3-4 Stan Moody
Zhang Anda 1-4 Jak Jones
Hossein Vafaei 4-1 Julien Leclercq
Dylan Emery 4-2 Noppon Saengkham
Elliot Slessor w/o Andrew Higginson
Ben Mertens 2-4 Fan Zhengyi
Aaron Hill 4-2 Mark Selby

Barry Pinches 1-4 Daniel Wells
Marco Fu 4-3 Zak Surety
Kyren Wilson 1-4 Anthony Hamilton
Chris Wakelin 1-4 Martin O’Donnell
Ian Burns 2-4 Tom Ford
Xiao Guodong 3-4 Barry Hawkins
Wu Yize 2-4 Graeme Dott
Joe O’Connor 0-4 Luca Brecel

Round of 32 (bo7)

Robert Milkins 4-0 David Gilbert
Jack Lisowski 3-4 Gary Wilson
Anthony McGill 4-1 Mark Williams
Ricky Walden 4-2 Neil Robertson
Mark Allen 4-1 Si Jiahui
Robbie Williams 4-2 Adam Duffy
Ryan Day 1-4 John Higgins
Matthew Selt 4-1 Duane Jones

Dominic Dale 4-1 Stan Moody
Jak Jones 4-2 Hossein Vafaei
Dylan Emery 1-4 Elliot Slessor
Fan Zhengyi 4-1 Aaron Hill
Daniel Wells 2-4 Marco Fu
Anthony Hamilton 2-4 Martin O’Donnell
Tom Ford 4-1 Barry Hawkins
Graeme Dott 1-4 Luca Brecel

Round of 16 (bo7)

Robert Milkins 0-4 Gary Wilson
Anthony McGill 4-3 Ricky Walden
Mark Allen 4-0 Robbie Williams
John Higgins 4-3 Matthew Selt

Dominic Dale 4-0 Jak Jones
Elliot Slessor 4-3 Fan Zhengyi
Marco Fu 2-4 Martin O’Donnell
Tom Ford 1-4 Luca Brecel

Quarter-Final (bo9)

Gary Wilson 5-0 Anthony McGill
Mark Allen 2-5 John Higgins

Dominic Dale 3-5 Elliot Slessor
Martin O’Donnell 5-3 Luca Brecel

Semi-Final (bo11)

Gary Wilson 6-4 John Higgins
Elliot Slessor 5-6 Martin O’Donnell

Final (bo17)

Gary Wilson 9-4 Martin O’Donnell

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. The Welsh Open has become a wide open event with the two best form players, and top two ranked players, withdrawing. Unsurprisingly in the case of O’Sullivan. This might increase the pressure on every player who is a remotely feasible tournament winner to make hay whilst the sun shines.

  2. It will certainly make BBC Wales extra keen to see a strong home showing.

  3. I mean….I’m not trying to be unsympathetic, and having played thousands of hours of the game, I know how mentally draining it is/can be…..but when it comes down to it….it’s a game? It’s not neurosurgery or air-traffic control where people’s lives are in your hands. Not fit to play, but fit to turn up and get paid for punditry? Like to say I’m surprised by this conduct, but it’s O’Sullivan – he expects and very often has a whole different set of rules that apply to him. I find myself looking forward to a time when he’s not playing anymore – so that these shennanigans will be over. Tennis has become more interesting with the retirement of Federer, and the the effective retirement of Nadal – Djokovic still going strong, but it’s a more interesting domain now. I think snooker will be served (boooooooooom!) well when similar things happen in that world.

    • Strang that the symptoms never seem to appear when in China.

    • The game will survive without O’Sullivan but the idea it’s better off when he retires is silly. He’s the greatest sight in full flow and transcends the sport in a way no other player does.

    • I also don’t agree tennis is more interesting currently. The sport remains compelling but the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic era is the greatest era of all-time and provided us with a litany of five set classics.

  4. Alan Freeman

    I would like to think that any player that withdraws from a tournament late in the day is able to provide medical evidence – or face a significant fine.

  5. The comment from Tim Pieters is pertinent and can’t be denied.Does what he likes with impunity and expects no consequences. I also agree that late withdrawals deserve some sort of fine.

  6. Unfortunately, Ronnie is Snooker, he is the best, just as Ginger was, and as Hendry was.
    There are many great players out there, Trump, Kyren, Luca, Williams, and many others, the difference is this. If Ronnie is playing I stop what I am doing and watch, even the wife knows I wont be going anywhere if Ronnie is playing, whereas if any of the other players are playing and I miss that match I dont really care other than to have a look to see who won.
    I just looked to see when he is playing only to find out he has withdrawn again, that means I wont be watching this week unless Kyren or Luca get to the semi final and beyond.

    In saying all that, Other then his ability to play this game, there is not a lot I like about Ronnie as a person, I am sure many others are unhappy with his attitude towards the game, the venues, the players and even his own assessment as a player. I have to wonder, if I were the best in the world at something and a millionaire, would I have the same attitude ? I would hope not.

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