Ronnie O’Sullivan “felt sorry” for Irish opponent in UK Championship thrashing

Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted he felt sorry for Irish amateur Leo Fernandez after coasting through the opening round of the UK Championship on Wednesday.

Ronnie O’Sullivan encountered little resistance when he stormed to a 6-0 win over Limerick’s Leo Fernandez and ‘The Rocket’ couldn’t help but sympathise with the Irishman after the match.

Six-time World Champion O’Sullivan came up short against Judd Trump for the third Northern Ireland Open final in a row last weekend but he bounced back to winning ways with his victory over Fernandez.

“I just felt a bit sorry for Leo, in a way,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

“Coming here, and it’s the same with a lot of the lower-ranked players – to be fair, if they could play amongst themselves and actually get through a few rounds and make some money and build some confidence – it’s a tough score for him!

“I could have been beaten tonight 6-5 and everybody would be talking about how useless I am, getting beaten by a lower-ranked player.

“Everybody knows that Leo is a very, very good player but he probably just needs to get on a roll to get confidence.

“It’s tough when you keep coming to tournaments and don’t really win any matches. It’s tough for the boys and I don’t know how they do it.

“Maybe there can be some way where we can get them playing more games. I don’t know.”

O’Sullivan has divided opinion with his view on up-and-coming snooker players earlier this year but he came across much more compassionate in his most recent interview.

O’Sullivan suggested that lower-ranked players on the circuit ought to be consulted by tournament organisers to see if they would welcome a change to the format that would enable them to get more experience because in the current system, the top-ranked players tend to ease through the opening rounds more often than not.

O’Sullivan explained: “You’d probably need to speak to the bottom-ranked players because obviously us top players have a privilege in that we don’t have that problem of worrying about the finances because we’ve got to the stage where we can kind of get away with a bad tournament or bad season and ride it out in many ways.

“But I think you need to sit down with the bottom 70 or 80 players and just ask them what they would like. If they’re happy with how it is then leave it as it is.

“But if they say, ‘We would rather it be done like this or that and we think that this is a better way of doing it which gives us a better chance to make some money and build some confidence and this is what we think is right.’

“You can’t ask the top players. That’s not right. It’s more of an issue for the lower-ranked players and in some way, we’ve got to try to support them because it’s tough on them. How do you get by without making money?”

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