LONDON – Snooker great Ronnie O’Sullivan suffered a stunning defeat when he was beaten by amateur James Cahill in the first round of the World Championship on Tuesday.
In one of the biggest upsets in snooker history, Cahill beat five-time world champion O’Sullivan 10-8 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Not since 2003 had O’Sullivan lost in the first round of the World Championship.
O’Sullivan, the current world number one, had been in fine form heading into the world championship after winning five tournaments this season, compiling his 1 000th career century en route to victory in the Players Championship.
But, speaking to the BBC, O’Sullivan said his “limbs felt heavy” and he “had no energy”.
“I felt horrendous,” he added. “I was struggling to stay awake.
“I haven’t felt great for a few weeks, and I have not slept brilliantly the past couple of nights... If you are not 100 percent, it will make it harder.
“I tried to hang in there and get through, and have a few days off,” added O’Sullivan, last crowned world champion in 2013.
O’Sullivan, however, paid tribute to Cahill by saying: “He did well. He held himself together. It’s been a very successful season for me, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Meanwhile, an elated Cahill said: “I could barely stand up at the end. I scored a good pressure 70 to go 6-5 up, and after that, I felt like he was the one under pressure. He didn’t want to lose to me.”
The 23-year-old Cahill, who lost his professional status in 2017, but has since won back his two-year tour card from next season, added: “I am not really sure what to say.
“I have always believed in myself and that I can beat anyone on my day. I want to show what I can do now.”
Cahill established a 5-4 overnight lead in the all-English contest, which he extended to 8-5 after the match resumed on Tuesday.
O’Sullivan pulled back to 8-8 with the aid of breaks of 104 and 89.
But the ‘Rocket’ missed a chance to take the 17th frame, leaving Cahill 9-8 in front.
O’Sullivan, 43, also had the opportunity to take the match to a final-frame decider, but he inadvertently potted a red when breaking the pack open from the blue.
Cahill made the most of an unexpected chance by holding his nerve with a break of 53 that saw him into a second-round match against Scotland’s Stephen Maguire.