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By Ben Parsons at the Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan accused referee Olivier Marteel of ‘looking for trouble’ after an angry exchange in the first session of his World Championship final against Judd Trump.
O’Sullivan, chasing Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, started strongly in his eighth showpiece final, building a 5-1 lead over Trump at the Crucible.
Trump responded with a fine 97 break, but frame eight was marred by a controversial incident involving O’Sullivan as the 2019 champion reduced the deficit to 5-3.
O’Sullivan returned to his seat after failing to get out of a snooker on the yellow, and appeared to be reprimanded by referee Marteel.
Marteel appeared to suggest that O’Sullivan had made an obscene gesture after his shot, but the irked six-time champion challenged the Belgian referee, asking him to check the cameras.
"He just seems to be looking for trouble, I get that vibe from the guy".
Ronnie O'Sullivan explaining that heated moment with referee Olivier Marteel pic.twitter.com/uHiuC1Vzp9
— Chris Hammer (@ChrisHammer180) May 1, 2022
“I just think he (Marteel) seems to be looking for trouble,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport, when asked about the exchange.
“I just get that vibe from the guy. They've got hundreds of cameras out there and they can go and check them all.
“I'm not going to have any of it because I think he's just trying to create something. He needs to deal with it, not me.”
O’Sullivan already awaits the outcome of an investigation from the WPBSA disciplinary committee following allegations over a lewd gesture made in his first-round match against David Gilbert.
And after initial confusion, World Snooker Tour (WST) confirmed the latest incident in a brief official statement.
“Ronnie O’Sullivan received a formal warning from the referee following a gesture he made in the eighth frame,” the statement read.
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) May 1, 2022
Trump was annoyed that the exchange disrupted his flow, suggesting to the referee that he should have waited until the end of the session to approach O’Sullivan.
Marteel replied, ‘I had to say something’, and Trump then shrugged off his frustration to clear the colours and steal a vital final frame of the session.
O’Sullivan shared a customary fist-bump with his opponent at the end of the session, but notably did not share the same gratitude for Marteel as he left the floor of the iconic Sheffield theatre without acknowledging the referee.
The 46-year-old had previously become embroiled in a lengthy exchange with Marteel over the placement of the cue ball in frame four.
He was adamant that the white had been replaced in the wrong area following a miss and joked that Marteel should have a go at playing the shot himself.
The eighth frame incident in the final threatened to overshadow an enthralling first session, as O’Sullivan and Trump exchanged big breaks in a high-quality affair that ended 5-3.