Protester covers snooker table in orange powder during World Championships

Ronnie O’Sullivan returns to the baize at the World Snooker Championship on Friday afternoon as he begins a grudge match against Hossein Vafaei at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Vafaei added plenty of spice to their second-round encounter during the build-up with a series of outspoken comments about seven-time champion O’Sullivan.

The Iranian star hurled verbal barbs at his former friend following his first-round win over Ding Junhui last weekend, accusing the 47-year-old of “disrespect” following an incident in 2021 German Masters qualifying, and adding: “He’s such a nice guy when he’s asleep.”

Opinions are split over whether Vafaei, ranked 23 in the world, made a wise choice in prodding O’Sullivan ahead of their best-of-25, three-day clash that is scheduled to conclude on Sunday morning.

Follow all the action from O’Sullivan’s clash with Vafaei in our blog below:


Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Hossein Vafaei

And this could get rather boring – both players nudge against the bottom of the bunch with few other options available. Ordinarily, this might prompt a re-rack but these two aren’t on wonderful terms, avoiding eye contact like a teenager with a teacher seeking overdue homework.

O’Sullivan ends the impasse by playing up to the red he missed earlier.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:36


Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Hossein Vafaei

O’Sullivan has just kept Vafaei firmly at arm’s length this afternoon, the Rocket yet to really take off in this session but building a commanding advantage. He’s looked calm and controlled throughout, happy to trust his safety play rather than try much of unneccessary extravagance.

That is slightly more jaunty, unfurling a hit and hope for the green pocket, but still ensuring he leaves the cue ball safe as the red pings away from the corner. No score yet in frame six.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:34


Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 Hossein Vafaei

And that’s that for the frame. Vafaei leaves a red exposed three inches from a corner pocket, O’Sullivan sending the cue ball ambling down to help it home. O’Sullivan extends his lead.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:30


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

A raised hand of apology from Ronnie O’Sullivan – a fluke to extend his lead to 20 points! He’s walking back to his seat, turning half an eye back to the table and then pivoting when it ends up buried in the bottom corner. 49-29 with two reds left and no further score.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:27


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

The black earns Vafaei a point and the blue five more, but that’ll be that, the Iranian unable to even attempt to free one of the remaining reds. Vafaei bites his lip – that’s a bit of a missed chance.

O’Sullivan misses a long-range pot by quite a distance. On we go.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:24


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

The two players engage in a battle of will and wiles, hiding the three reds in turn with neither making a major error. Vafaei snookers O’Sullivan between the pink and the black, forcing the Englishman to come off the top cushion…and cede seven points as he strikes the black on his way back down.

“Free ball” is the call, and Vafaei jumps out of his seat to assess his options.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:22


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

The Rocket has a rapid unscheduled disassembly, thinking a little too much about a kiss on a red adjacent to the black and failing to make certain of the pot. Vafaei behind but still in the frame.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:14


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

Against a player like Ronnie O’Sullivan, you really do have to capitalise when he gives you opportunities. Vafaei is profligate, missing a simple enough red, and his opponent is back into his work needing two more reds and colours to secure the frame.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:12


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

O’Sullivan finds himself in a pickle after failing to sufficiently open the pack with his first attempted entry. A difficult red to the middle inspects the mandibles. 32-16 his lead in the frame.

Over on the other table, Mark Allen has extended his lead to 9-3, with Stuart Bingham’s championship hopes quickly fading.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:07


Ronnie O’Sullivan 3-1 Hossein Vafaei

Vafaei tallies 16 before he too errs, a red in and out of the same left corner pocket where O’Sullivan had missed a couple of minutes earlier. The Rocket rifles in a red to restart his scoring.

Harry Latham-Coyle21 April 2023 16:03

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