O’Sullivan starts strong in Wales despite venue criticism

Ronnie O'Sullivan. Picture by Monique Limbos

Ronnie O’Sullivan. Picture by Monique Limbos

WELSH Open defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan successfully reached the last 32 stage of the competition’s opening day – but did not take long to state his displeasure of the tournament’s new home.

The first day of the major ranking event saw O’Sullivan record victories over Vinnie Calabrese and Rory McLeod. O’Sullivan, who beat Ding Junhui in last year’s final will next face Welshman Matthew Stevens in a bid to reach the last 16.

But despite his two victories O’Sullivan was critical of the tournament’s new home at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, chosen as a replacement to the Newport Centre which had been the venue of the ranking event for the past nine years.

“It’s like playing in a shopping mall.” he said. “There were people walking around and getting up as and when they wanted.

“The etiquette of snooker is not to move when a player is on his shot.

“I don’t like it (the new venue). “I thought Newport was one of the best venues I’ve played at, so I was really gutted to see it go.

“I had played here, so I knew what kind of venue it was. It’s kind of like playing in an aircraft hangar, so it’s a bit difficult.

“The atmosphere’s not great, the acoustics are not as good, so from a snooker player’s perspective, it’s not as good a venue as Newport.

“But from a 128-perspective you need venues that are big enough to take 128 players.”

Masters winner and German Masters finalist Shaun Murphy was the biggest casualty of the opening day after he suffered a 4-3 defeat to Welshman Jamie Jones.

Australian Neil Robertson progressed without losing a frame with 4-0 wins over James Cahill and David Morris.

Mark Allen held off a spirited fightback from China’s Cao Yupeng to win 4-3. Two centuries from Judd Trump moved him into the last 32 with victory over Mark Joyce.

Trump will next face Gloucester’s Michael Wasley after he recorded impressive wins against Dominic Dale and Li Hang.

Amateur Ashley Carty showed more signs of a promising future ahead of the game as he followed up his recent success in Germany, where he reached the venue stages of the German Masters, by reaching the last 32 stage of the Welsh Open,

Carty beat Michael Holt 4-2 before going on to beat Alfie Burden 4-0. Ali Carter showed more promising signs his best form is returning after the former Welsh Open winner reached the last 32 stage after comfortable wins against Fraser Patrick and Mark King.

Tuesday sees recent German Masters champion Mark Selby return to the baize as well as former winners Ding Junhui, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire.

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