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Snooker commentator Neal Foulds was unable to comprehend some of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decisions during his first-round 6-3 win over Ali Carter at the Shanghai Masters. During their first frame, the Rocket was locked in a battle having been leading 63-46 with just the pink and black balls left on the table.
Trailing by 17 points, Carter knew he had to snooker O’Sullivan in order to claim the first frame, often attempting to put the defending champion in tricky situations in order to force a mistake. However, there were several occasions where Carter left the 47-year-old the chance to pot the pink and win the frame.
But O’Sullivan turned down several chances to pot and instead opted to play the pink safe, leaving Eurosport commentator Neal Foulds baffled. Even if O’Sullivan did not want to leave himself in a compromising position by attempting the pot, leaving the pink near a pocket would likely decrease the chances of his opponent being able to land a successful snooker.
“I am not sure why O’Sullivan didn’t just try and drop that in,” Foulds said when discussing O’Sullivan’s first opportunity to pot the pink, giving Carter another chance as potting the pink would end the frame. There’s a glimmer for Carter.”
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Then after being handed an opportunity for a long pot to send the pink to the top-right pocket, the Rocket decided against taking up the chance and instead sent the pink back down the table to the bottom cushion.
It ensured that Carter would have a difficult time attempting a snooker from his position, but alternatively O’Sullivan could have ended the frame, as Foulds explained: “That’s a rather odd shot, isn’t it? Why wouldn’t he try and pot the pink there? I can’t think of a reason.”
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Having been handed a third chance, Foulds was only further confused: “That’s another shot that I can’t explain, Ali Carter with another side-along look, he actually wasn’t a million miles away from being off there when he looked over. What happened on that shot? He has refused the last two pinks and was looking perilously close to being off there.”
With a fourth opportunity to pot, this time O’Sullivan declined the safety and sent the pink into the top-left pocket in a similar situation to his second invitation to put Carter away, going 1-0 up and on his way to victory in the opening round.
Carter did mount a mini-comeback, coming from 3-1 down to tie before three consecutive victories – including a century break – saw the Rocket through to the next round where he will face John Higgins, but not before baffling some of the snooker experts with his stance against potting the pink in his opening frame.
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