Since early December, the former world champion has lost first-round matches at the UK Championship, Wembley Masters, Welsh Open and now this week’s tournament, the Bank of Beijing China Open. He also withdrew from the German Masters, and has slumped to 10th place in the world rankings.
After losing 5-2 to Welshman Ryan Day on Wednesday, three-time Crucible king O’Sullivan admitted his patience could eventually run out and indicated he may quit if results continue to be poor.
He said: “It’s not great is it, but it is what is and there’s not a lot you can do about it other than just keep trying. I can’t really put my finger on it.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s not enjoyable. It’s not fun for me. It’ll give you a lot of grey hairs when you play like that.
“I don’t know how much more I can take of playing like that.
“I’ve said I would retire before but haven’t, so I don’t want to look silly, but I can’t continue to keep playing that way. I’m not going to say I’m retiring but you never know, it’s not looking good.”
O’Sullivan has not won a match at a major ranking event since September’s World Open, when he lost to Neil Robertson in the final.
The World Championship is up next in a fortnight, and Dominic Dale awaits O’Sullivan in the first round. Normally O’Sullivan would be expected to brush Dale aside, but current form suggests it could be tight.
“I need to get home and see my family and get ready for Sheffield now,” O’Sullivan said.
“It’s just around the corner.”
Asked if a visa issue on his arrival in China had knocked his focus, O’Sullivan said: “There’s no excuses here, I’m just not playing well and I’m getting beaten regularly.”
Ding Junhui delighted his home crowd by brushing aside Stephen Hendry to reach the quarter-finals.
The 24-year-old, who lives in Sheffield during the snooker season and is a winner of this event in 2005 and finalist last year, trailed Hendry 2-0.
But the Scot had no answer to an impressive revival by Ding, who reeled off five frames in succession to set up a clash against Stephen Lee.
Lee had earlier become the first player to make sure of a place in the last eight, courtesy of a 5-2 defeat of O’Sullivan’s conquerer Day.
John Higgins defeated Ricky Walden 5-2 to set up a last eight encounter against Shaun Murphy, who beat Li Hang 5-4.
Mark Selby despatched Robert Milkins 5-1, Ali Carter won 5-3 against Marcus Campbell.
World champion Neil Robertson bowed out to Peter Ebdon 5-1, who now plays Judd Trump who beat Mark Davis 5-2.