Ronnie O’Sullivan crashed out of the UK Championship at the quarter-final stage on Friday after being whitewashed by Ding Junhui in a humiliating defeat for The Rocket at the York Barbican. The result marked O’Sullivan’s first defeat to nil since losing to to Hossein Vafaei in qualifying for last year’s German Masters, with Ding running riot to put his mentor to the sword in six frames.
The contest began as a tight affair, with Ding edging out O’Sullivan to clinch the opening two frames before turning on the style as the match progressed. He laid down a statement of intent with an impressive break of 88 in the third frame before reaping the rewards of an outrageous fluke on a red in the fourth as he extended his advantage on his way to victory.
O’Sullivan managed to win just four points after going 2-0 behind as Ding cruised into the semi-finals with a hugely dominant showing to condemn O’Sullivan to his first career whitewash in a Triple Crown event. His Chinese opponent wrapped up proceedings with an astonishing 131 break to seal arguably the biggest victory of his career, with the result marking one of the most prominent upsets in the history of the tournament.
Ding was warmly embraced by O’Sullivan in the immediate aftermath of the final frame and The Rocket was quick to offer his congratulations when quizzed on his post-match thoughts.
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“He played well, he played brilliantly well,” admitted O’Sullivan. “I hope he goes onto win it now. He just proved what a fantastic player he is, I’m not surprised. I’ve had a good run, I can’t complain. I’ve got a bit of time off now.”
Ding, meanwhile, was delighted with his performance after finishing with runs of 88. 94. 87 and 131 to ease past O’Sullivan and into the last four of the UK Championship in what turned out to be an easy afternoon for the former world No 1.
“I’ve been working hard over the past two years,” he said. “They (the Chinese players) push me to work harder. Will keep trying and doing the same thing.”
Ding will face either Joe Perry or Tom Ford in the semi-finals of the UK Championship on Saturday as he chases his first triumph at the tournament since 2019. O’Sullivan, meanwhile, will be left scratching his head in disbelief after an error-strewn performance that saw him become the last of the world’s top six players to crash out of this year’s competition.
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