Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals he was accosted by a fan in ‘nightmare’ incident before World Snooker Championship win

Ronnie O’Sullivan fears overenthusiastic fans could wreck his bid for a seventh world crown after being accosted before his World Championship opener on Saturday.

O’Sullivan revealed he was approached on Saturday in a city centre restaurant before beating Mark Joyce at the Crucible, and will now cut back his appearances in public in order to minimise the risk of being forced to withdraw due to a positive coronavirus test later in the tournament.

O’Sullivan, who said that two members of the restaurant’s staff had been forced to intervene, added: “Ninety-nine per cent of the people are fine but it’s just the odd one who was a bit boozed up and having a mental one. It was so busy and this geezer was a nightmare.

“He was p***ed up and coming at me and I was like, ‘mate, please.’ What can you do? I’ve got to stay indoors and stay away.

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“If I didn’t have to be clean for this tournament, it wouldn’t matter, but if I reached the quarter-finals, it would be a sickener to have to pull out. As a sportsman, I can’t work if I get ill so that’s my only problem.”

Nevertheless, O’Sullivan hailed the return of fans to the famous venue, which was filled to 33 per cent capacity as part of a pilot scheme surrounding the return of fans to sporting events, after turning on the style to claim a 10-4 win.

Despite establishing a 6-3 lead, O’Sullivan has struggled in an error-strewn opening session, but ended it by becoming only the eighth player to make three consecutive Crucible centuries as breaks of 124, 137 and 112 finally saw him
ease over the line.

O’Sullivan added: “It was great to have the crowd in there, they miss their snooker and I probably would have given up mentally in that match if there was no crowd there.

“I’d have thought, I’ll get out of here and go home and do a bit of punditry, but because the crowd are here, you feel you’ve got to perform because they’ve paid their money and come out to watch.

“When I think back to my great matches and you see the crowd’s faces and the pleasure that you give them when you play an unbelievable performance, that sticks in your mind that that’s what I’m here to do.”

With sanitiser stations provided around the venue, fans had their tickets scanned before sitting in designated seats, socially distanced.

Play in the afternoon session was paused just before 3pm in order for the sport to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh.

World Snooker Tour confirmed it had issued written advice to players prior to the tournament to “be careful” when they are in public areas.

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