Ronnie O’Sullivan insisted he prefers Crawley to the Crucible despite sweeping into the last eight of the World Championship with an imperious 13-10 victory over Ding Junhui.
Resuming at 8-8, O’Sullivan pulled away in a quickfire and high-quality final session which saw breaks of 50-plus in each of the evening’s seven frames.
But the five-time winner, who next faces fellow veteran Mark Williams, said he still struggles to enjoy the event and would rather be playing at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley, which he described as a “hellhole” during last year’s English Open.
O’Sullivan said: “To be honest I prefer the format of Crawley because it’s the best of seven, so it’s a quick in-and-out.
“Here it’s a great venue but it’s bit hectic and a bit stressful. I’d rather take the Crawley option to be honest with you.”
O’Sullivan’s slick performance saw him move two frames clear with breaks of 87 and 73 before Ding seized advantage of a rare missed black to reduce the deficit with a break of 88.
O’Sullivan nudged 11-9 in front with a break of 60 and, after Ding cleared to brown in the next with a break of 81, O’Sullivan struck a superb 117 to move within a frame of victory.
O’Sullivan narrowly missed back-to-back centuries but a 93 break in the next sealed up a 13-10 win and with it a last-eight clash with fellow veteran Mark Williams.
He added: “When you’re younger you have all the hunger and desire but at some point you have to try to get yourself motivated, whether that’s taking the pressure off or getting another hobby or job.
“I was glad I was able to focus out there, but I’m just more passionate and motivated about other things I’m doing off the table.
“But while I’m still playing snooker I want to enjoy it. Whether I win or lose is kind of irrelevant at this stage of my career.”
Kyren Wilson claimed Judd Trump already deserves his status as one of snooker’s all-time greats as the pair moved to thaw their previously frosty rivalry ahead of the start of their own quarter-final clash on Monday.
Wilson, who was handed a first-round bye following the withdrawal of Anthony Hamilton, withstood a stirring fightback from 11-5 down by Martin Gould to triumph 13-9 and reach the last eight for the fifth time.
The pair’s relationship soured after Wilson won a final-frame decider to clinch the 2015 Shanghai Masters title, and blew up again at the 2018 Champion of Champions when Trump responded to Wilson apparently questioning his commitment by snapping, “He (Wilson) probably needs more practice than me.”
But after seeing off Gould, Wilson insisted: “Judd is world number one and he’s won the ‘triple crown’ now. I think once you’ve got a triple crown under your belt you can go down in the greatest list, and that’s obviously my aim.
“I’ve proved myself over long formats against Judd before and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure Judd can handle all the pressure because he’s been there and done it before. I’ve just got to focus on what I need to do to beat him.”
After holding his nerve in his own last-16 thriller against Yan Bingtao, Trump revealed he now had no problems with Wilson, whom he tipped to go on and challenge for the title in future years.
“I think it (the rivalry) was a bit built up,” insisted Trump. “There’s no needle any more – we’ll never be best friends, but we get on. I’m sure Kyren will be in the world final one day with a chance to win it.”
Gould had worried Wilson by reeling off the first three frames of the morning and should have had a fourth until a calamitous error left the 28-year-old with a free ball and the chance to clear from three snookers and eventually wrap up victory.
Neil Robertson pulled away from Barry Hawkins to keep alive his hopes of winning a second world crown.
The Australian, who will play Mark Selby in the quarter-finals, resumed at 8-8 and pounced on some uncharacteristic errors from Hawkins to take the first three frames of the session.
Hawkins reduced the deficit with a superb break of 104 but Robertson restored his lead with a 79 despite the black being out of service, then seized a second chance in the next frame to complete a 13-9 win.