Ronnie OSullivan match interrupted by strange noise as star makes Google Maps quip

Laila Rouass responds to question about Ronnie O'Sullivan split

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Ronnie O’Sullivan had to deal with a rogue sat-nav as he began his 2022 World Snooker Championship campaign at the Crucible. The Rocket pointed out that “Google Maps” was interfering in the middle of his first round match against David Gilbert on Saturday.

While it wouldn’t have happened when he first started out as a snooker professional, O’Sullivan and his peers have had to deal with interruptions from a wide range of gadgets in recent years. Mobile phones are the most common culprits, as their owners forget to turn them off or put them on silent mode.

This time it appeared to be a satellite navigation system which caused a stir during the match in Sheffield. Referee Brendan Moore was forced to speak up as the sound of a robotic voice giving directions was heard in the Crucible.

“Can you turn that off please,” Moore said to the crowd after a safety shot from Gilbert appeared to be disrupted by the noise. “There’s a strange noise coming from the audience,” the TV commentator said, before O’Sullivan specified: “Google Maps.”

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Moore appeared to concur as he once again turned to address the audience. The referee repeated: “Seriously, it sounds like somebody’s sat-nav. Can you turn it off please?”

As he waited for play to resume, the commentator pointed out that such interruptions are a modern issue within the sport. “They have found their way to Sheffield, that much we do know,” he quipped, before adding: “Ronnie did not have this problem the first time he played here, 1993.”

O’Sullivan was not put off by the incident this time, as he recovered from a wobbly start to make relatively light work of the first round match. There was that scare at the beginning though, as Gilbert raced into a three-frame lead.

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But Gilbert has lost against the Rocket on all seven occasions he has come up against him, and that trend was not going to end this time. O’Sullivan rallied after racking up his first ton of the tournament in the fourth frame, and from there he showed the sort of style and control worthy of a world number one.

The fifth was more tricky, as the six-time world champion had to negotiate a tricky safety battle on the final red which he won by laying a difficult snooker and forcing the foul. The sat-nav was the highlight of the next frame, but it did not affect his focus as he put together a break of 64 to level the tie.

The quality of his comeback victory was enough to convince retired snooker legend Jimmy White that Ronnie is capable of going all the way again this year. “Going into this tournament, Neil Robertson is the form player but Ronnie O’Sullivan to me – he has lost 6-4 and 10-9 the last two times they have played – and Ronnie’s record here is impeccable and he is playing well, so my prediction is Ronnie O’Sullivan,” he told Eurosport.

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