O’Sullivan surprises crowd in ‘shot of the tournament’ without potting

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Ronnie O’Sullivan’s third-round opponent Luca Brecel could only applaud along with the Crucible crowd at the World Snooker Championship after the Rocket’s stunning safety shot in their opening session on Tuesday. The 47-year-old was at his masterful best, knowing that he would need to utilise his superior safety game in order to get the better of the Belgian hotshot.

However, O’Sullivan himself will have been proud of an effort in the fourth frame after initially going down 2-1 to his opponent. Against a more attacking player in Brecel, O’Sullivan played a stunning safety shot as his control of the cue ball was at its spectacular best to put Brecel in a difficult position.

With the black near the bottom right pocket with a red, O’Sullivan managed to knock the red back up the table and somehow hook the cue behind the black – as Brecel then fouled and gave the Rocket a free ball before going on to take the frame.

Dennis Taylor, who won the competition in 1985 with an iconic victory over Steven Davis, was in position on commentary and gushed over the shot. “That was incredible,” Taylor told the BBC. “To get that right behind the black, it’s a good a shot as we’ve seen this tournament.” Co-commentator Ken Doherty then added: “If there’s a shot worthy of winning a frame, that’s it.”

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While John Parrott back in the studio on punditry duties was equally as impressed by O’Sullivan. “The shot we’re going to show you, I mean this is just fantastic, to control the cue ball over this distance, to get the work at it just to check it and put in in behind the black; one of the shots of the championships, no doubt. Absolutely fabulous shot,” he said.

The crowd at the Crucible were sent into raptures after the stunning shot, likely to have been one of the biggest cheers at the tournament for a shot that did not even see a ball go into the pocket. Brecel himself could only join in with the fans in Sheffield as he also applauded O’Sullivan.

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The shot instigated a shift in momentum during the match, however, as the two stars had gone toe-to-toe with both pulling off some spectacular efforts in a keenly-contested third-round clash that included a masterful long-range yellow by Brecel.

After tying at 2-2, O’Sullivan then took his first lead in the next frame and then gave himself a two-frame cushion after the interval.

A surprising foul on the black in the seventh frame by O’Sullivan gave Brecel a chance as the snooker legend had the game in his hands, but accidentally touched the near black with his waistcoat as he attempted to pot the yellow to allow Brecel to steal the frame, but a miss on the pink saw O’Sullivan lead 5-2 and then move ahead 6-2 with his fifth consecutive won frame.

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