Ronnie O’Sullivan dismisses ‘very minor’ Home Nations after Yan Bingtao defeat

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Ronnie O’Sullivan didn’t have particularly kind words for the Northern Ireland Open (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan insisted he wasn’t fussed about defeat to Yan Bingtao at the Northern Ireland Open on Thursday, because he considers the tournament as ‘match practice’ and ‘like pro-ams we used to play as amateurs.’

The six-time world champion was edged out 4-3 by the Masters champion in the last 16 in a memorable match in Belfast.

The Rocket had twice held the lead then produced a superb 73 clearance to force a decider, but it was the 21-year-old Chinese star who held his nerves together best in the decider.

O’Sullivan had been to the final of the event for three years on the spin before this defeat to Yan, but insists he is far from bothered about this or any of the Home Nations tournaments.

‘These tournaments are very very minor, they’re like match practice really,’ O’Sullivan said after defeat. ‘The three big events that are important are the Worlds, the Masters, the UK.

‘These best of sevens are just like pro-ams, like we used to play when we were amateurs. 

‘Obviously Sheffield is the place, York, the Masters. You could probably chuck a few of the Chinese events in there now as they’re quite prestigious tournaments. But otherwise, if you look at the calendar, they’re not the greatest tournaments.’

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While Judd Trump says he considers all tournaments to be of equal value and treats them all the same, O’Sullivan is in an entirely different camp.

‘If I had to choose between winning 10 of these, what are these tournaments called? Home Nations, and one world title, I’d take one world title,’ Ronnie said. ‘Obviously that’s a proper event. This is just a bit of match practice. No-one is going to remember you for winning a Home Nations, are they?

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Another impressive step in the young career of Yan Bingtao (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’d rather have Tiger Woods career than Colin Montgomerie’s. Or even Brooks Koepka. I know he doesn’t win many of the other events, but you still want to have those four majors tucked away. That’s where the pressure is, that’s where it counts. They’re the Blue Riband events.

‘Speaking from everybody else I get why they’re excited about them events. If I was Yan Bingtao I’d be super excited about it. My heart has gone out of giving blood, sweat and tears on the tour. I’m happy just to come and hit a few balls.’

The Rocket may not have sounded too chirpy after his loss to the impressive 21-year-old but he did claim to enjoy the match and still took some positives out of it.

‘I really enjoyed that today,’ he said. ‘I enjoyed pitting myself against a good youngster who played well, who probably outplayed me and deserved to win.

‘But at 45 I can take a lot of positives out of that. I’m not sure a 45-year-old Yan Bingtao would beat a 21-year-old Ronnie O’Sullivan, so I kind of flip the coin sometimes. I’m not doing too bad for someone that’s getting on, you know.’

Yan plays Mitchell Mann in the quarter-finals in the quarter-finals on Friday.


MORE :
Yan Bingtao reacts to superb Ronnie O’Sullivan upset: ‘I was thinking I’ll go home tonight’


MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan dumped out of Northern Ireland Open by Yan Bingtao

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