O’Sullivan dumped out after day of controversy in Crawley

Ronnie O’Sullivan exited the English Open hours after his latest bizarre claim over the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley.

The five-time world champion, who has maintained his criticism of the venue which he described as a “hell-hole” last year, posted a tweet on Thursday which purported to illustrate hygiene issues at the venue’s restaurant.

His remarks were given short shrift by both World Snooker and the leisure centre operators before O’Sullivan’s turbulent week, at least in competition, was ended after he lost a final-frame shootout against Mei Xiwen.

O’Sullivan had beaten Hossein Vafaei 4-1 earlier in the day and a 134 break established a 3-2 lead against Mei, who stormed back to force a decider where breaks of 52 and 71 saw the Chinese claim a famous fourth-round win.

Shaun Murphy was also sent packing on Thursday night but only after Tom Ford’s match-winning maximum 147 break sealed a 4-3 success.

Reigning world champion Judd Trump crashed out at the last-32 stage after a 4-2 defeat to Lee Walker, while world number four Neil Robertson was whitewashed 4-0 by Zhao Xintong.

Walker, who reached the quarter-finals of the 1997 World Championships, clinched the last two frames with breaks of 59 and 65 after the world number one had compiled back-to-back centuries to level proceedings.

But O’Sullivan’s elimination took centre stage on the day he continued his long-running feud with the venue.

Beneath a picture appearing to show food waste beneath a table, O’Sullivan wrote: “The floor at K2 Crawley Restaurant not looking too clean”, adding the hashtags #hygiene and #healthandsafety.

O’Sullivan, who also made headlines for claiming the K2 venue smelled of urine last year, had stepped up his criticism earlier this week by insisting the leisure centre needed a “complete refurbishment”.

Venue operator Everyone Active, though, insists that is exactly what has happened to the restaurant area since the photograph posted by O’Sullivan was allegedly taken – and it issued updated pictures to prove it.

Stuart Mills, the area contract manager for Everyone Active, told the PA news agency: “We can confirm that the picture Ronnie is referring to was taken over six months ago, and we have tweeted him back to reassure him that this is the case.

“Everyone Active has invested £75k into the cafe facilities at K2 and a refurbishment of the restaurant area took place in April 2019.”

Clearly tiring of O’Sullivan’s disquiet, World Snooker also swiftly reacted, echoing the venue spokesman by insisting that [O’Sullivan’s] picture isn’t current.”

After his match against Vafaei, O’Sullivan, who had also said earlier this week that “every day in Crawley is a day lost in my life”, did not expand on his criticisms but implied once again that he would rather be elsewhere.

Judd Trump was among the big-name casualties on Thursday (Richard Sellers/PA)
Judd Trump was among the big-name casualties on Thursday (Richard Sellers/PA)

Speaking to Eurosport, with whom he also has a role as a pundit, O’Sullivan said: “If I wasn’t punditing [sic] here I probably wouldn’t have come.

“It’s like a bit of practice. In some ways I’m getting punished for winning because I can’t do the punditry.”

Mark Selby avoided joining the list of big-name casualties on Thursday as he booked his place in the quarter-finals and a showdown against O’Sullivan’s conqueror Mei with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Xiao Guodong.

Mark Allen produced a dominant performance, beating Barry Hawkins 4-0 in under an hour with breaks of 60, 89, 100 and 129. Hawkins also lost his high break prize to Ford.

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