Ronnie O'Sullivan
Finals, Main News, Non-Ranking

Ronnie O’Sullivan – ‘You could have a Saudi world champion in 20 years’

Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged as the champion of the inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker on Wednesday at the Boulevard Arena.

Snooker’s first foray into the Saudi Arabian market ended with the game’s greatest of all time landing another big title.

The Rocket beat Judd Trump 4-1 in the semi-finals before fighting back from 2-1 behind to overcome Luca Brecel 5-2 in the final.

O’Sullivan pockets £250,000 for his triumph, matching the champion’s cheques he received at both the UK Championship and the Masters earlier this season.

Having also won the Shanghai Masters and the World Grand Prix, it takes his overall tally of silverware to five this term.

That makes him the most prolific winner during the 2023/24 snooker season so far.

“I’m delighted,” Ronnie O’Sullivan told the World Snooker Tour after beating the world champion with breaks of 124, 121, 95, and 94.

“I came here wanting to do well in this tournament. It’s the top players in the world and the first time coming to Saudi Arabia.”

“They’re putting on some fantastic events over here, so just to be a part of it was great. But to win it is like the icing on the cake.

“I played really well against John [Higgins], that’s probably one of my best performances. I struggled a bit against Judd, I didn’t find my timing and stuff like that.

“But then I played a bit better today in the final, so hopefully there’s a bit of some form coming back.

“[The fans] are so passionate, I’m so excited to see it. I love the culture, I came here and I fit in here perfectly.

“They’re very relaxed, take life at a nice leisurely pace. The work still gets done, and it’s just laid back. That suits my personality really well.

“The fans have been fantastic – chanting mine and Luca’s name at the end there. It’s great, and I can’t wait to come back.

“It didn’t bother me playing at 3am in the morning. I thought that’s the Middle Eastern way, that’s the Saudi way.

“You just have to embrace it and throw yourself all into it. I felt a little bit tired today, but I had a couple of hours during the day so I was alright.

“I think they love the game and enjoy the game. I think they are on about trying to open some academies and get some good coaches over here.

“Try and get a lot of these youngsters playing the game. You never know, you could have a Saudi world champion in 20 years time.”

O’Sullivan compiled six centuries in the competition but was unable to land the mega jackpot bonus for constructing a 167 break.

The new 20-point golden ball, which could only be played at the end of a 147 break, was never potted.

John Higgins came the closest to achieving the feat during his preliminary-round contest with Mark Williams but missed the yellow while on 120.

Turki Al-Sheikh, the Saudi Arabian chairman of General Authority for Entertainment, promised the bonus would be doubled from $500,000 to $1 million for the next edition of the Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker.

Snooker will return to Riyadh this summer, meanwhile, for the inaugural Saudi Arabia Snooker Masters.

Dubbed the “fourth major” and boasting a lucrative prize fund worth more than £2 million, the tournament will be a ranking event open to all members of the World Snooker Tour.


World Masters of Snooker draw

Last 12 (bo7)

Ding Junhui 4-0 Omar Alajlani

John Higgins 4-0 Ali Alobaidli

Last 10 (bo7)

Ali Carter 4-3 Ding Junhui

Mark Williams 2-4 John Higgins

Quarter-Finals (bo7)

Luca Brecel 4-1 Ali Carter

Mark Allen 4-3 Mark Selby

Judd Trump 4-3 Shaun Murphy

Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-0 John Higgins

Semi-Finals (bo7)

Luca Brecel 4-2 Mark Allen

Judd Trump 1-4 Ronnie O’Sullivan

Final (bo9)

Luca Brecel 2-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan


Featured photo credit: WST

2 Comments

  1. Tim Pieters

    This is a lot of bs! He speaks this way cause of the big money he just had been paid… Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.. Amazing crowds indeed, hasn’t he seen the first round? Was he temporarily blind when the players were presented?

  2. Jeremy Grigg

    More likely to have a Chinese world champion in 20 years, though I can hardly blame O’Sullivan for trying to boost enthusiasm for the game in Saudi Arabia.

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