Ronnie O’Sullivan Triumphs in Opening Round Despite Tennis Elbow Challenge

In his inaugural appearance in a ranking event this season, Ronnie O’Sullivan clinched a 4-0 victory against Andrew Pagett in the opening round of the BetVictor English Open. However, O’Sullivan disclosed that he still grapples with persistent tennis elbow issues.

The current world number one had recently triumphed at the invitational Shanghai Masters, but had to withdraw from the BetVictor European Masters and British Open due to health concerns. Consequently, today’s match marked his return to a ranking event since the World Championship held in April. He secured his victory with impressive breaks of 69 and 62. The Rocket is set to face Jackson Page at 1pm on Wednesday at the Brentwood Centre.

Tennis elbow has been a source of discomfort for O’Sullivan for approximately 18 months, frequently flaring up. The 47-year-old explained to Eurosport after the match, “I’ve tried giving it rest, and it’s bearable with painkillers. I’m reluctant to rely on them, but they are necessary for me to execute powerful shots.”

He contemplated the possibility of needing another cortisone injection, the third one in total, though he expressed reservations due to the potential weakening effect on his muscles. The issue started last year after a weightlifting session at the gym, resulting in significant weakness. The condition exacerbates whenever aggravated.

Regarding Mark Williams’ recent victory at the British Open, a fellow member of the famed Class of ’92, O’Sullivan shared, “Whenever Mark or John (Higgins) win, I’m reminded that I’m still competitive. Even at almost 50 with weakening muscles and declining eyesight, I’m holding my own.”

In another notable match, Sanderson Lam achieved a career milestone by defeating Neil Robertson 4-2. Lam, ranked 73rd globally, has shown exceptional performance this season, winning at least one match in every ranking event thus far. Reflecting on the win, Lam said, “It was a relief to secure the win, especially when it seemed like it could have been 3-3. Neil wasn’t at his best today, so I consider myself a bit lucky. I’m working hard on improving my weaknesses and analyzing my losses. Winning boosts my confidence, and I’m enjoying the game.”

The day also saw John Higgins narrowly triumph over Marco Fu 4-3 in a nail-biting contest. Higgins strategically potted the green ball during a crucial safety exchange, setting up a matchup with James Cahill on Tuesday morning. Additionally, local favorite Ali Carter triumphed over Jamie Clarke 4-1, showcasing top runs of 85, 128, and 62. In another English amateur wild card face-off, Ryan Davies emerged victorious against Bradley Cowdroy with a score of 4-2.

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