O’Sullivan beats ‘most famous person’ he’s ever hung out with

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat the ‘most famous’ person he has ever hung out with after easing through to the last 16 of the Six Red World Championship in Thailand. The Rocket defeated Thai superstar James Wattana in his first ever appearance at the short-format tournament as he ramps up preparations for his pursuit of a record eighth world title at the Crucible next month.

World No.1 O’Sullivan secured a dominant 5-2 win over teenage sensation Stan Moody on Wednesday, but it was his match against veteran Wattana that proved most captivating for the bumper Thai crowd.

The duo had both progressed as the guaranteed top finishers in their group, but O’Sullivan claimed maximum points with another impressive showing at the Thammasat University Centre.

O’Sullivan made a fine 71 break against Wattana, in a format that leaves little room for error with the traditional 15 red balls reduced to six.

And the 47-year-old sealed victory with an extraordinary fluke, as three-time ranking event winner Wattana shared a warm embrace with the game’s most iconic figure, much to the delight of the thrilled crowd.

O’Sullivan – instantly snooker’s most recognisable player worldwide – recalls losing to home hero Wattana 9-6 in the 1995 Thailand Open. And the reigning world champion explained before their match on Wednesday that he has never played against someone as popular as the former world no.3.

“Playing James in Thailand is always massive. I played against him in a final here when he was at his peak and prime,” he said. “I remember we had to stop the match for some adverts – and he was on all the adverts, for Nescafe, Thai Airways, everything!”

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“I remember thinking then ‘This geezer is unbelievable – I have never hung out with anyone so famous’. He couldn’t go anywhere, needing security and police escorts. Thai snooker is very strong at the moment, it isn’t just China – and all of that is down to James.”

He added: “I am really enjoying it here and I felt a bit more prepared today after my first match the day before, with it being the first time I had played the six reds. You can see more how the game goes and it is a great format, I love playing it. It’s not so much you have to change the way you play – it’s just weird!”

O’Sullivan is yet to win a ranking event this season, but remains firmly on course to claim the £100,000 top prize in Sunday’s final of the unique invitational event.

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