With a verbal attack on defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, the Iranian Hossein Vafaei heated up the second round duel between the two at the Snooker World Championships in Sheffield.
The underdog sees a chance for revenge on the pool table starting this Friday (3:30 p.m. / Eurosport) after the seven-time champion had criticized Vafaei.
“Ronnie O’Sullivan is such a legend, he’s such a good player when he’s at the table, and he’s such a nice person when he’s asleep,” said Vafaei in an interview with the BBC and had to laugh. “You know what I mean,” added the 28-year-old, promising fans could look forward to the round of 16. “Every sport needs people like us,” said Vafaei, urging viewers, “Everybody get your popcorn.”
So far, the outsider has had plenty of reasons to smile at the Crucible Theater in his second appearance at the World Cup. The qualifier defeated the former finalist Ding Junhui of China thanks to a convincing performance 10:6 in the first round. Favorite O’Sullivan (47) is therefore warned. The always opinionated Englishman, whose statements are sometimes as unpredictable as his sometimes fluctuating performances, recently said about Vafaei that he had to learn to be quiet.
Vafaei didn’t want to put up with that. O’Sullivan had been disrespectful to him before. “God gave me a chance for revenge,” said the Iranian, who sees victory as a chance to advance to the final at the turn of the month. “If I beat my hero, or what my hero was,” said Vafaei. To get into the quarter-finals, the winner has to win 13 games – so-called frames – on the pool table. Three sessions are scheduled for Friday, Saturday (3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m.).