Ronnie O'Sullivan compared his third round defeat at the English Open to having amnesia, writes Will Jennings.
The reigning world champion slumped to a shock 4-1 loss against two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens in Milton Keynes after a thrilling performance from the Welshman.
World No.31 Stevens compiled four fine half century breaks followed by a brilliant final-frame 116 to stun the Rocket and dump him out of the Home Nations event in the last 32.
The six-time world champion slammed his inability to take chances - but says he can barely remember large parts of the match.
Matthew Stevens won the Masters 2️⃣0️⃣ years ago.
Today, he played as though it was last weekend!
Pot success rate : 9️⃣8️⃣%
🔴 Home Nations
📺 Eurosport 1
💻📱 Uninterrupted coverage: https://t.co/aP6zkq7BzH#HomeNations #EnglishOpen pic.twitter.com/HcOd3R3XrE
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) October 15, 2020
“He played well - I had my chances but I felt, what do you call it when you keep forgetting stuff, I felt I had amnesia!” the 44-year-old said.
“I can’t even remember what happened to be honest with you - I missed the black on 40 odd, and that’s about as much as I can remember really. What happened in the first two frames? I honesty can’t even remember.
“He just played much better than me and I didn’t give him much of a game, and that’s what happens.
“He’s won some big tournaments and had a fantastic career and is still one of the top players.
“Sometimes if you don’t play great and you don’t deliver you’re just disappointed in that, whether there’s fans, no fans or it’s a big tournament or a small tournament.
“The bottom line is that you want to play well.”
The Welshman raced into a 2-0 lead at the Marshall Arena after solid opening visits of 58 and 73 left O’Sullivan, sporting pink nails in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, slumped in the chair.
The 37-time ranking event winner cut the gap in a scrappy third but Stevens, who was crowned Masters champion back in 2000, regained his two-frame advantage with efforts of 51 and 54 in the fourth.
Let’s nail breast cancer @futuredreamss. I’ll be getting my pink nails out tonight in support of Breast cancer. Please donate £5 if you can text LNBC5 to 70500 who is going to join me? pic.twitter.com/ecOIFa8was
— Ronnie O'Sullivan (@ronnieo147) October 12, 2020
And then came that fine 116 in the fifth to knock the Rocket out and continue his poor start to the 2020/21 season.
O’Sullivan, who was memorably crowned king of the Crucible for the sixth time in August, insists he’s suffering from no World Championship comedown and is not thinking about equalling Stephen Hendry’s seven world titles.
Asked if he was struggling to motivate himself after his Sheffield crown, he said: “I don’t think so.
“I don’t really pay much attention to that [records] - I’ve never really worried about records and it’s not something that motivates me.”