Skip to content

Hossein Vafaei steps up Ronnie O'Sullivan war of words ahead of World Snooker Championship showdown

Hossein Vafaei faces reigning champion Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round at the Crucible; it will be the first time the pair have met since Vafaei stated O'Sullivan was "not good for the game" and "sometimes disrespectful" with his comments about other players

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2023 - Day 3 - The Crucible
Hossein Vafaei during his match with Ding Junhui at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Picture date: Monday April 17, 2023.
Image: Hossein Vafaei beat Ding Junhui to set up a second-round clash with Ronnie O'Sullivan

Hossein Vafaei stoked up his rivalry with Ronnie O'Sullivan after setting up a mouth-watering clash with the defending champion at the Cazoo World Championship.

Vafaei produced a brilliant display of scoring to beat Ding Junhui 10-6 in the first round on Monday, setting up a grudge match with seven-time champion O'Sullivan in the last 16 at the Crucible on Friday.

It will be the first time the pair have met since Vafaei called on O'Sullivan to retire last year and stated he was "not good for the game" and "sometimes disrespectful" with his comments about other players.

Asked about his second-round opponent after his victory over Ding, Vafaei suggested the O'Sullivan was a nice person when he was asleep and even put on an Essex accent as he criticised the world No 1 for always making excuses.

"I think Ronnie O'Sullivan is such a legend, he's such a good player when he's on the table," Vafaei told BBC Sport.

"He's such a nice person when he's sleeping, you know? You know what I mean. It's going to be a great match for the people. I think every sport needs to have some people like us.

"I don't have anything to lose. If he beats me for example 13-0 it's still the start of my career. I don't fear him.

Also See:

He's such a nice person when he's sleeping, you know? You know what I mean. It's going to be a great match for the people. I think every sport needs to have some people like us.
Hossein Vafaei on Ronnie O'Sullivan

"If I beat my hero, (who) used to be my hero, I'm going to be dangerous for the tournament. I'm not going to disrespect all the players because I've seen so many players playing well as well, (but) it's going to be great if I go to the final."

Told O'Sullivan had been ill before his opening win against Pang Junxu, Vafaei added: "He always finds an excuse for himself, he's been like that for 30 years."

O'Sullivan had his own thoughts, however, when reminded of Vafaei's comments following his victory against Pang.

"Has he been saying much about me this year?" O'Sullivan told Eurosport. "I think he's learned to be quiet.

Ronnie O๏ฟฝSullivan File Photo
File photo dated 16-11-2022 of Ronnie O'Sullivan who will take on Pang Junxu in the first round of the World Snooker Championship while Mark Selby will kick off his campaign with a meeting with Matthew Selt. Issue date: Thursday April 13, 2023.
Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan opened his defence of the title with a victory over Pang Junxu

"Don't rattle my cage. I love it when they call me out, I love it when they give me stick. I just love it.

"It turns me on. I get off on it. I need something to find so I'm hoping someone says something and hopefully I get better so I can have a reason to perform."

Vafaei had trailed Ding 5-4 overnight but rattled off the first four frames when play resumed on Monday morning, the Iranian making breaks of 117, 122, 68 and 57 in rapid succession.

Ding stopped the rot after the mid-session interval with a break of 77, only for Vafaei to end a safety exchange in frame 15 with an audacious plant into the middle pocket, despite the cue ball being tight on the cushion.

That led to a break of 89 and Vafaei wasted little time in sealing an impressive win in the next frame.

Around Sky