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Ronnie O’Sullivan looked unimpressed as Mark Allen fired a cheeky dig at the seven-time world champion after reaching the UK Championship final. Northern Irishman Allen overcame Jack Lisowksi in a tense decider to reach Sunday’s Barbican showpiece against Ding Junhui, the man who whitewashed O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals.
O’Sullivan is widely regarded as the greatest player to wield a snooker cue and was tipped as red-hot favourite for a record eighth UK Championship crown in York before his shock 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Ding, a three-time winner of the Triple Crown event. Instead, Allen will go head-to-head against the resurgent Chinese star who is back to his best after a fallow period on the baize.
After the experienced Allen edged out nervy Lisowski to reach the final, he joined the Eurosport team for his post-match interview, with O’Sullivan sitting alongside the former Masters champion on punditry duty.
And when discussing the importance of reaching the final, Allen teased The Rocket. “Everyone entered this tournament (wants to win), maybe Ronnie aside because he doesn’t like snooker, he likes punditry!” O’Sullivan then appeared to offer a cold response to Allen’s quip, with a blank expression after the world no.9’s comments.
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Allen was referring to O’Sullivan’s persistent rhetoric that he is ambivalent to the game despite his status as the world no.1 and world champion. O’Sullivan, who was recently blasted by Shaun Murphy as a bad ambassador for the sport, recently claimed he ‘does not care’ about snooker and that the job isn’t worth the stress that comes with it.
“I don’t care anymore to be honest with you,” O’Sullivan said last month. “The job ain’t worth the stress and the hassle. I quit mentally about eight years ago and I just take what I can from the sport. It’s a good platform for me, it allows me to do other stuff.
“It gives me a lot of freedom, but as far as trying to win tournaments and cement my name in the game? There ain’t enough good stuff in the game for me to get excited by it.
“So I just take what I can from it and one day I’ll wake up and get excited and I’ll play a good tournament. But if I don’t? I don’t really care anymore to be honest with you. I just get my cue out, pot a few balls, get paid and that’s it at the end of the day. It’s just become an emotionless-type job.”
O’Sullivan’s apparent indifference is in stark contrast to Allen, who was desperate to get over the line to give himself the chance of a first UK Championship crown on Sunday.
“I have no idea [how I won], that was awful,” Allen said after beating Lisowski. “I just got in there and stayed mentally really strong, but I didn’t really have any part of my game tonight.
“It was just a struggle from the start and I don’t know why I’m sitting here the winner. Jack was much the better player. Just maybe my experience told, but I will need to improve tomorrow.”
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