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Ronnie O'Sullivan crashes out of World Open snooker after defeat to ex-rival who once told him 'to retire'

Ronnie O'Sullivan crashes out of World Open snooker after defeat to ex-rival who once told him 'to retire'

Ronnie O'Sullivan is out.

Ronnie O'Sullivan has been knocked out of the World Open at the last 16 stage after a tense 5-4 defeat to former rival Hossein Vafaei in China.

The pair exchanged frames throughout the contest, with an opening 86 break from Vafaei giving him an early foothold in proceedings.

But O'Sullivan levelled the match at 4-4 with a break of 125 to force a decider, and gained control of the final frame with another high break of 62.

However, 'The Rocket' missed the black and allowed Vafaei in to close the gap, before the Iranian potted blue, pink and black to take the frame by just one point.

The World Open is O'Sullivan's penultimate tournament before the World Championship, as he has qualified automatically for the 12-player Tour Championship next month.

O'Sullivan and Vafaei have been no stranger to rivalry over recent years, with the Iranian accusing his opponent of 'disrespect' after an incident during German Masters qualifying.

Vafaei then told O'Sullivan that 'he should retire' after the 2022 World Championship, before the pair met in a second round clash at the Crucible a year later.

Vafaei made headlines with a pool-style break to smash into the reds early on, before being thrashed 13-2 by O'Sullivan in a one-sided encounter.

The pair have been on much better terms since then, and exchanged a embrace after O'Sullivan beat Vafaei at this season's UK Championship.

Speaking after that semi-final defeat, Vafaei told Eurosport: "I lost to my hero. There was only one man that could stop me in this tournament I think, and it was Ronnie O'Sullivan. I came so far, and I'm so proud of myself.

"I said that before, there's arguing in every family, even in the snooker family. It's good to have these arguments, as it makes these friendships stronger.

"I said to Ronnie, 'I don't have the heart to beat you honestly, the way I was playing against the others was completely different'.

"He said, 'You're going to win these big tournaments, 100 per cent. We'll meet again - I love you.'"

Vafaei will be as pleased as anyone to have gone one better against his 'hero' in China this time around.

Featured Image Credit: Getty / Eurosport

Topics: Ronnie OSullivan, Snooker