World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan cruised into the quarter-finals of the UK Championship with a 6-0 thrashing of China’s Zhou Yuelong in York.
O’Sullivan recorded the highest break of the final stages to date, a total clearance of 137, in the third frame and completed the whitewash with a break of 103 against a woefully out-of-form opponent.
Zhou scored just 81 points in the entire match and 63 of those came in frame five before he missed a red to the middle and O’Sullivan made 82 to pile on the misery.
Simply stunning from The Rocket!
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) November 16, 2022
O’Sullivan insists he stands alone in his ability to rise to the big occasion, telling the BBC: “I don’t think anyone has (it).
“There’s definitely not a Stephen Hendry or a John Higgins in my book. Some people do it in spells, but to maintain it, it’s not easy.
“I never had a problem with crowds and the bigger the occasion the more I liked it. If you can’t handle it you’re going to struggle.
“I think it’s in your make-up, you’re born with the love of pressure and the love of big occasions. You can’t teach that, you’ve either got it or you haven’t.
“Stephen Hendry at 15, we all knew he was different. Steve Davis was different, Tiger Woods. You just look in their eyes and they have a different intensity.”
Zhou came into the tournament on a high after making the final of the Northern Ireland Open last month and reaching fourth place in the one-year ranking list.
But Zhou, who has a flaky history on the big occasion, having lost 9-0 to Neil Robertson in the 2020 European Masters final, simply crumbled with a series of shocking misses.
Asked if he felt Zhou had been “starstruck” by facing a seven-time world champion, O’Sullivan said: “Not really no.
“I treat every game as if I’m going to get beat. I’d never go out there over-confident, just play my own game. I know he didn’t perform but at the moment that’s what everybody’s doing against me.
“I think I’m bad but everybody else is bad probably; that’s a fair assessment.
“I’m enjoying myself everywhere I go, I’m having a great time. I just don’t enjoy it when I’m not playing great but I just have to suck it up, it’s part and parcel of the game.
“If my bad is better than everyone else’s bad then I have to take that but I’m never far away from playing well. You never know.”
In the big evening session match, Mark Allen came from 2-0 down to beat Kyren Wilson 6-3.
Tom Ford, a semi-finalist in 2018, sank last year’s runner-up Luca Brecel 6-3 and Sam Craigie was a 6-4 winner against Ryan Day.