Stephen Hendry tears into Ronnie O’Sullivan after British Open exit

Stephen Hendry did not mince his words as he ran the rule over Ronnie O’Sullivan’s performance in his first-round British Open defeat at the hands of Alexander Ursenbacher on Monday night. The Rocket was dumped out of the competition after a sub-par showing in which he allowed Ursenbacher to take the match by the scruff of the neck and secure a major upset at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

O’Sullivan missed three straightforward reds while playing left-handed in a scrappy performance by his own high standards and will be forced to rue his mistakes as he watches the rest of the British Open from the sidelines over the coming days. Hendry was highly critical of the 46-year-old after his surprise first-round elimination, with the Scot insisting that it was the worst he had seen the reigning world champion perform for a number of years.

“That’s probably the worst I’ve seen Ronnie O’Sullivan play for a good few years, he was rubbish tonight,” said Hendry.

“He just never got going. He was over-hitting things, played three shots left-handed which missed by a long way. It’s the poorest performance I’ve seen from Ronnie in a long time.

“I’m sure it’s not the fact he’s playing someone he’s lost to twice, I’m sure that’s not the reason, but for whatever reason he just wasn’t on it tonight.

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“You have to give all the credit to Alexander because he was magnificent, he took it to Ronnie from the word go. He was very, very composed right from the word go in the first frame, he was hugely impressive.

“He looked very comfortable. There’s not many players that look that comfortable playing against Ronnie O’Sullivan.”

Monday’s result saw Ursenbacher secure his third win over O’Sullivan in four attempts to send the British icon packing with a commanding performance at the Marshall Arena. He previously downed The Rocket at the Welsh Open back in 2019 before coming out on top at the UK Championship a year later and will now be hoping to follow up his latest victory with a win over Joe O’Connor in Tuesday’s second-round clash at the British Open.


Ursenbacher revealed after his latest triumph over O’Sullivan that he was happy to have delivered the goods in front of his mother, who was watching him play live from the stands for the very first time.

“I’m happy that my mum’s here,” said the Swiss hopeful. “She gave me a lot of strength and I told myself I’m not going to give in, no matter what happens I’m just going to go for it.

“It’s like any other win, but he’s a seven-time world champion and the greatest player to ever pick up a cue, so it is special. But I’m trying not to make a big deal out of it, because I’d rather be him.”

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