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Ronnie O’Sullivan has an injury scare just four weeks before his campaign for an eighth World Snooker Championship crown is due to commence. O’Sullivan was set to play David Grace in the last 64 of the WST Classic on Sunday night – but has withdrawn hours before the match.
A statement from World Snooker Tour (WST) said: “Ronnie O’Sullivan has withdrawn from the WST Classic in Leicester for medical reasons. He was due to meet David Grace at 6pm on Sunday evening in the second round, but Grace now receives a bye into the last 32.”
Express Sport understands that the Rocket has pulled out of the tournament due to an elbow injury. Since winning his seventh world championship crown last year O’Sullivan has gone without making it into a ranking event final.
O’Sullivan’s withdrawal from the tournament means he can no longer qualify for the eight-player Tour Championship in Hull starting next week. Instead the 47-year-old is set for a month out of competitive action to recover from his elbow injury before the World Snooker Championship begins at the Crucible on April 15.
O’Sullivan has won both the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions invitational events this season and was beaten in the last-16 of the Six Red World Championship earlier this month. Last year the Rocket pulled out of the European Masters while he recovering from tennis elbow which meant he was unable to practice.
“The last two months it’s just got really bad so I really need to rest it,” said O’Sullivan at that time. “Hopefully it will get better and I think it’s a time-healing process.” On that occasion O’Sullivan targeted a return in the Hong Kong Masters and won the event.
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O’Sullivan has struggled for form in ranking events this season resulting in him dropping to 21st in the one-year ranking money list earning £60,500 in the last 12 months. The Rocket also missed competitive action after failing to qualify for the Players Championship.
However, the Rocket still remains No.1 in the world rankings which is formatted on a two-year “rolling” format. O’Sullivan has previously responded after having time away from competitive action and famously won the 2013 crown despite having spent that season away from the circuit.
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