Injured O’Sullivan and Murphy set for UK snooker second round
Even the greats of sport cannot compete injured, and there is doubt over 11/4 tournament favourite Ronnie O’Sullivan’s participation in the UK Championship snooker, which Coral are sponsoring.
Although he made light work of his first round match at the Barbican Centre, beating Daniel Wells 6-2, ‘the Rocket’ was in discomfort.
“I didn’t enjoy any of it,” said four-time UK winner O’Sullivan after that contest. “It’s painful for me to play.” Rocket Ronnie sported a protective brace as he took to the baize in midweek, but punters will have to wait and see if he shows up for his day six evening session showdown with Leeds potter Peter Lines.
“I wanted to see what happened,” continued O’Sullivan. “I was hobbling about and I can’t get on a shot properly. If it doesn’t improve I am not sure I will play my next match.”
Such news is music to the ears of 2009 UK quarter-finalist Lines. “Obviously I would be delighted to play Ronnie on television,” he said. “But if you gave me the option, I would definitely prefer to get a bye.”
History is not on the Rocket’s side in previous head-to-heads either, so that does beg the question why world number 61 Lines isn’t more confident after two victories against O’Sullivan?
Rocker Ronnie is a green baize genius, though, with five World Championships at the Crucible and as many Masters titles to his name. The four-time career triple crown winner is a strong odds-on 1/12 favourite to beat Lines, if he does compete. Should this match go ahead, it’s 8/1 for an upset.
Shaun Murphy, UK champion in 2008, is also in action during the middle Sunday of this tournament. Nicknamed ‘the Magician’, he faces Finland’s Robin Hull, who has climbed over 20 places in the world rankings following a run to the quarter-finals of the Wuxi Classic earlier this season.
Yorkshireman Murphy has faced this potter before, but it was at the World Six-reds Championship last year. That shorter format is one of the inventive ways to try and inject enthusiasm into the game, but the world number seven can expect a warm reception in York.
Murphy is a best price 12/1 chance to add a second UK crown to his CV here, and strongly odds-on at 1/8 to hammer Hull, who is a 5/1 outsider to make round three.