Ronnie O’Sullivan pulls out of tournament with emotional statement on “stage fright”
Ronnie O’Sullivan has apologised to his fans after confirming he will not enter next week’s Welsh Open.
The tournament is due to get underway in Llandudno on Monday, but the Rocket, who has been public with his mental health issues, has withdrawn from the tournament with ‘stage fright, brought on by anxiety’.
In a post on social media, O’Sullivan said: “Morning guys, I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided I’m not able to play in Llandudno next week. It’s hard to explain but for years I’ve suffered from stage fright at times, brought on by anxiety. It’s not something I can predict or control but I try to manage it as best as I can.
“I’m sorry to everyone who’s bought tickets but I just can’t get my cue out when I feel like this and I think this what’s best for me right now. I still want to be around the tournament so I’ll be doing some work with Eurosport and I hope to see you all there.”
The Rocket has endured a rollercoaster few months, winning the UK Open the Masters and the Grand Prix, all the while continuing his battle with the game’s governing body.
He has recently pulled out of some lesser events in order to focus on his mental health, with the Welsh Open the seventh ranking tournament he has declined to participate in. Speaking before he made the same decision at the German Masters, the world number one said: “I love the event and fans in Germany, but I have to make my health and wellbeing the priority.
“It’s been a tiring and challenging season for me so far, despite how it may seem with the tournament wins so hope you understand. I’m sorry I won’t be there, and I hope to see you all soon.”
He also spoke openly about his struggles during the Grand Prix, admitting he would need to make a decision on his future: “I’ve got to consider whether I can carry on, feeling how I’m feeling.
“It’s a struggle, to be honest, and the worst thing is you’re winning tournaments. If I was getting pumped first round every match playing like that it would be an easy decision to make, but I’m not getting any enjoyment out of it, to be honest with you.
“I definitely need a break, at least, but it’s been like this for 25 or 30 years so it’s nothing different. It’s just it’s the only thing I’ve known and it’s hard to not do this years ago because it’s my job.”
O’Sullivan’s issues away from the baize have coincided with a back and forth between he and World Snooker Tour chiefs. A disagreement arose last year regarding some of the game’s top players pulling out of tournaments to instead play exhibition events in China.
His Masters final victory over Ali Carter was also marred in controversy after the two players exchanged furious insults following the Ally Pally showpiece. WST bosses were understood to be investigating the incident with O’Sullivan telling his long-term rival to “sort his f****** life out” in an astonishing post-match rant.