Ali Carter
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Ali Carter – ‘he looked like he wanted to kill me’

Ali Carter quipped that the name Ronnie O’Sullivan is banned in his snooker room following their notorious run-ins with one another.

The pair of Englishmen, who once regularly practiced together, share an infamous rivalry that has been fuelled by high-profile encounters and headline-generating incidents.

They have clashed in the finals of three Triple Crown tournaments – twice in Sheffield when O’Sullivan won the 2008 and 2012 World Championships at the Captain’s expense.

Their most recent meeting of such stature was earlier this year when Carter squandered a 6-3 advantage and O’Sullivan fought back to capture a record-breaking eighth Masters crown in London.

Afterwards, the duo volleyed jibes at one another in volatile post-match interviews.

Undoubtedly their most memorable moment together, however, was during the 2018 World Championship when they crossed paths in the second round at the Crucible Theatre.

For once, Carter gained the upper hand on his esteemed opponent during a fiery battle that most remember more for their petty shoulder barge.

“He’s actually a banned name in this room. We don’t allow that name to be mentioned,” Ali Carter joked on a recent episode of Stephen Hendry’s Cue Tips.

“We used to practice together loads when I was 16 or 17. I was just turning pro, and he used to come over to Witham.

“He played there every day for quite a few months as far as I can remember, and we were practicing together.

“Around that time, I made my [first] run and got to the semis of the Grand Prix and then won the Benson & Hedges Championships, so it obviously helped me massively.

“I think the more competitive I got, the more the relationship sort of…not went wrong, because that’s not the right word. It’s difficult to describe.

“But when all of a sudden we’re competitors, I’d find times where he wouldn’t say hello.

“To be fair, I don’t know too much about him. You know, I say what I see. I hold no malice now really – I’m not around him enough for him to feature in my life.

“Obviously we know he’s a great snooker player and all that, but as regards to everything else, I couldn’t tell you. I let people make their own minds up.

“But as we’ve chatted, whatever you say, the staunch Ronnie fans will always slaughter you, so I choose to keep my mouth shut.

“What happened [in 2018] was, first we touched shoulders before the second incident.

“We’re sitting here at the Crucible, and it’s so tight, and I became aware at the first one that he was walking back – but there is plenty of room [to walk by each other] – but I was aware that we touched shoulders on the way past.

“I was thinking, ‘what? does he want me to go like this or like that?’ But I was aware that there was no giving way.

“Then for the second time, I thought no. And then he’s gone and he’s given it that to me. I just thought, ‘oh what’s going on here?’

“But I think the score was 10-9 or 11-9, or something. He was sitting in the chair and the referee said to calm down, blah, blah, blah.

“I did play a bit of a game. I thought, I’m not going to let him have the last word. So I just said, ‘thank you’.

“So he went, ‘oh yeah, I’ll give you one back.’ And I said thanks for that. And he’s like, ‘I’m as cool as a cucumber.’

“He looked like he wanted to kill me at the time, he looked absolutely raging.”

Carter, who also contested the final of the Wuhan Open last season where he lost to Judd Trump, has risen back into the top 10 in the rankings after a consistent spell of form.

The 44 year-old has started the new campaign in fine fashion as well, emerging successfully at Championship League Snooker to capture a sixth career ranking title.

Ali Carter
Ali Carter has reached as high as number two in the world rankings. Photo credit: WST

Having also won an invitational event in Finland, it has been a strong response to how the 2023/24 term concluded when he suffered an early first-round exit in Sheffield.

“I was very disappointed with how the World Championships went. Arguably, I probably had the hardest draw with [Stephen] Maguire,” Ali Carter said.

“I think he was up for it. Obviously I was up for it, but I think I’d had a long hard season.

“If you look at the players who played in the Worlds and done well, they’d done nothing all year – Kyren [Wilson], Jak Jones, [Stuart] Bingham, and Dave Gilbert.

“They’d hardly won a match between them all year. The players who had done really well all year – I know I didn’t win anything, but I had two or three finals and semis – were maybe burnt out.

“You always try and look at what went right or wrong, and I looked at that and thought, maybe I could have done things a little bit different.

“But it’s easy to say after the event.

“Realistically now, it’s about earning as much money as I can and getting as much as I can out of the game, while putting what I can in my own way back in.

“That’s what it’s about, and obviously if tournament wins come along then brilliant. You know me, I’m competitive and want to win.

“But if I don’t win tournaments, as long as I can keep earning and providing for my family, and maintain my lifestyle, that’s got to be a good thing.

“There are goals and obviously I’m desperate to win another tournament or two or three or five, and obviously a Triple Crown event.

“If it comes along, then great. But if it doesn’t, I can look back on my career and say that it’s been not as good as some but better than most.”

Featured photo credit: WST

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