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Welsh Open – Ronnie O’Sullivan blasts ‘sub-standard’ venue


Ronnie O’Sullivan likened the new Welsh Open venue to a “car boot sale” after his first round victory over Vinnie Calabrese on Monday afternoon.

The reigning Welsh Open champion was highly critical of the playing conditions at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff as he kick-started his title defence with a routine 4-1 win over Australian cueist Calabrese.

The tournament has returned to Cardiff from the Newport Centre after an 11-year absence, but O’Sullivan feels the venue and format is of detriment to the historic world ranking event.

“I just tried to enjoy it and go for my shots and make the best of what it was,” O’Sullivan told BBC Wales.

“You can’t take it too seriously out there, there’s too much going on, it’s really difficult to concentrate. It’s like playing in a shopping mall.

“There was people walking around, people getting up. It’s difficult to get your head around.

“I can put up with distractions, but not when people are just walking around as and when they feel, it’s difficult to focus on your game.”

O’Sullivan’s highest break came in the opening frame as he made a 59 en route to a 3-0 lead, and although Calabrese claimed the fourth, ‘The Rocket’ wrapped up the win with a 52 in the next.

The world number two, who was also critical of the table conditions during the early rounds of the UK Championship, produced a series of audacious shots and was visibly unhappy with the cushions throughout the match.

“You just have to go out there and enjoy it, because if you take it too seriously then you’re going to get frustrated, so I just thought I’d have a laugh out there and smash everything up,” he added.

“For the first few rounds you just have to try and scrum your way through if you can and put up with the sub-standard conditions.

“Maybe when we get down to the last 32 or last 16, it’ll be like a proper event, but the venues can’t handle 128 players and it’s a bit like a car boot sale really.”

The revamped format sees all 128 main tour professionals enter at the first round stage, with players from the top half of the draw contesting first and second round matches on the same day.

O’Sullivan will return at 8pm this evening to take on either methodical cueist Rory McLeod or resident Welshman Andrew Pagett and insists he is not looking forward to returning to action.

“I didn’t really care. I’m not really looking forward to coming back tonight and playing in these conditions.

“I don’t like it, I thought Newport was one of the best venues I’ve ever played at, so I was gutted to see it go.

“I have played here before so I knew what type of venue it was – it’s like playing in an aircraft hanger – the atmosphere isn’t great and the acoustics aren’t great.

“From a snooker player’s perspective, it’s nowhere near as good as Newport, but for the 128 format you need venues that are big enough to take the strain.

“We’re getting half a practice table each. If you told someone that a professional sportsman was doing that, they’d laugh at you, but that’s just how it is,” he added.


David is Crunch Sport's baseball guru. He's a walking, talking almanac when it comes to stats and facts. His elementary school dreams of playing professionally were scuppered by terrible co-ordination, but luckily his writing skills kept him in touch with his beloved sport through high school and beyond.

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