Ronnie O’Sullivan walked away from the York Barbican yesterday and admitted he could be ready to quit snooker.
Defeat stretched his record since winning a major ranking tournament to over two years. For one of the most gifted players ever to pick up a cue, that failure is something he is struggling to accept.
“I feel in a very good place I don’t want to take the shine off Judd because he produced a fantastic performance and is into the next round,” said O’Sullivan, who has won 22 major ranking events in a career spanning two decades. “But I really can’t see me having much longer playing.
“I am in a good frame of mind. I don’t want to feel how I do when I play. My game’s not up to scratch, where it used to be. It’s not even playing, it’s how I feel in between games, in between tournaments.
“I’m feeling quite nervy and anxious a lot of time. I’ve had enough of the anxious times in between games and tournaments and having those emotions going round you in general I find quite difficult. Even though I’m managing it in possibly the best way I’ve ever done.
“I’m not saying this from an angry or hurt place but sometimes the truth needs to be told. I’ve given it a really good go but I just want to enjoy my life.
“I’m 36 and would like to meet somebody, to share my time with somebody. Sometimes when I live and feel how I do in between tournaments I find it very difficult for this to happen.
“This dominates my life a lot and there’s more to life, well there is for me. I’d like to meet someone and settle down.
“Maybe do some other things and not have the anxious thoughts that have plagued me. Though it has got better it still isn’t quite cutting it for me, but I’ll try to tough it out for a bit.”
O’Sullivan has struggled with despression in recent years but his work with sports psychologist Steve Peters had recently seemed to be paying off.
But O’Sullivan said: “I will talk to him and for my own peace of mind I think there is life beyond snooker. Sometimes I have to see it how it is.
“I still want to work, don’t want to wake up with nothing to do. I don’t want to be living on my own, travelling round the world on my own being anxious and lonely and carrying these emotions.
“Feeling how I feel I’ve not been in the right place for that. It’s important for me that I give myself that opportunity. I’m not an easy person to get along with when I’m playing snooker because sometimes I go into my own little world and carry my emotions. It’s not fair to put someone you want to be with through that.
“For me to be the real Ronnie I need to get away from what is causing the problem.”
O’Sullivan and Trump had combined to put on an entertaining showdown at York, and while neither player reached their peak, the quality was obvious with nine breaks over 50 in the 11 frames.
The Rocket seemed to have victory in sight at 5-4, but stumbled on a break of 47, missing the final brown and blue to hand Trump a chance which he snatched to take blue and pink and force a decider.
The 22-year-old is tipped by many as the player to fill O’Sullivan’s shoes as the game’s biggest box-office draw after shooting to prominence this season. His swashbucking approach saw him win the China Open then go all the way to the World Championship final before eventually being pipped at the last by John Higgins.
“Judd is the best potter I’ve ever seen but he hasn’t improved – he has always been fantastic,” praised O’Sullivan. “If you can pick a fault in his game, his cue ball probably travels a lot further than most top players but when you can pot like him it doesn’t matter.
“He goes for things. He enjoys the game and likes playing. good for him.”
Trump – who will now play Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after he defeated fellow Scot John Higgins 6-4 – admitted he was surprised to have won.
“I just never really felt as though I was in the match all day, but somehow I got through,” he said.
“It’s always pleasing to know my B-game got me through. He’ll be quite disappointed to have lost.
“I probably got outplayed to be honest, my safety wasn’t great and I was letting him in a lot. Ronnie should have won at 5-4 but he missed a brown ball you don’t expect him to miss. In that final frame you just want one good chance, so it was great that I won it.
“It was a great atmosphere in the arena, there’s always a good buzz when you play Ronnie. The crowd are on his side a lot, but they get you up for it.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I’m just delighted to still be in the tournament. Normally when you play like that against Ronnie you get beat.”
Sheffield-based Ding Junhui is also in the last eight after another match went the distance, Matthew Stevens losing out 6-5.
The two-time UK winner had led 5-3, but Stevens battled back to level with breaks of 67 and 72.
Stevens was first in the balls, but stalled on 24, leaving Chinese cueman Ding to knock in a 62 and clinch a quarter-final with either Neil Robertson or Graeme Dott.
Extra tickets have been released in the balcony area of the York Barbican for Sunday’s final of the williamhill.com UK Championship. Despite record sales, there are still tickets available for most sessions. Book now – call 0844 8542757 or visit www.yorkbarbican .co.uk