Ronnie O’Sullivan crashes out of British Open as Alexander Ursenbacher claims major upset | Other | Sport
Ronnie O’Sullivan was sent crashing out of the British Open at the very first hurdle on Monday evening, with Alexander Ursenbacher claiming an impressive upset victory to maintain his remarkable record over the 46-year-old. The latter, who has now faced and beaten O’Sullivan on three occasions in ranking events, started brilliantly and did not look back to condemn The Rocket to an early exit at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Ursenbacher made no mistake with the red and pink in the opening frame to draw first blood in front of his mother, who was watching him play from the stands for the first time in his career. The Swiss hopeful went on to make a strong start to the second frame before O’Sullivan was allowed to fight back, although it was not long before the latter potted the white to give his 26-year-old opponent the upper hand once again.
O’Sullivan quickly went 2-0 down before halving the deficit in frame three to give himself a glimmer of hope in his efforts to avoid a premature exit at the British Open. However, he was unable to capitalise on his positive momentum as Ursenbacher emerged on top in the fourth frame to put himself on the cusp of victory.
The unfancied 26-year-old wrapped up proceedings by claiming the decisive fifth frame as an O’Sullivan mistake allowed him to regain control at a crucial stage of the match. He closed out the game with little difficulty to register his third win over O’Sullivan in four attempts and send the British icon packing after the very first round.
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O’Sullivan was nowhere near his best over the course of the match, with a number of silly errors preventing him from finding his feet when it mattered. He missed three straightforward reds while playing left-handed in a scrappy performance by his own high standards and will be forced to rue his mistakes as he watches the rest of the British Open from the sidelines over the coming days.
Ursenbacher, meanwhile, insisted before his win on Monday that he was more than ready for the challenge of facing O’Sullivan on the big stage while revealing that several of his friends had travelled to Milton Keynes to watch The Rocket in action against him.
“I’ve got two or three friends coming over, because they’ve never seen him play live,” said Ursenbacher. “It is a funny one, because they want to see him but they will also be happy if I win. I’m not thinking about them anyway, it is nice to have them over to watch.
“If you want to be the best or somewhere near the best you need to relish the challenge, but to have any chance you really need to tackle it head on and believe in yourself. It isn’t about who is the better player, or facing the big names, it is about working on your own game and developing.
“For me, if I am playing the top players, I see it as a great opportunity. They show me where my game is at.”
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