Ronnie O’Sullivan tears into Northern Ireland Open atmosphere after Andy Hicks win
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Ronnie O'Sullivan clashes with Mark Allen during tense game

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Snooker great Ronnie O’Sullivan has slammed the atmosphere at the Northern Ireland Open during his opening round win over Andy Hicks in Belfast on Monday afternoon.

As expected O’Sullivan dominated his match with fellow Englishman Hicks, winning 4-1 in the Northern Irish capital to set up a second round tie with Alfie Burden after he defeated Yuan Sijun 4-2.

Despite his convincing win the Rocket did have some complaints about his opening match, mainly on the atmosphere from the Northern Irish crowd after he revealed he ‘struggled’ throughout the contest.

O’Sullivan told EuroSport: “I kind of struggled with the table and I struggled with the atmosphere – there was really no atmosphere out there.

“I’m playing alright, so normally I can generate the atmosphere but, I don’t know… it felt like years ago, every time we played a tournament, every match felt like a big night, like a Champions League night, whereas out there, it was poor… it was hard.”

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The 45-year-old Englishman is no doubt used to an atmospheric crowd with his games always captivating the audience, as many regard the rocket as the greatest player of his generation. 

However, it seems Monday’s match was something O’Sullivan was less than used to as the mellow atmosphere looked to have sucked the life out of him as he admitted he was ‘very bored’ around the table.

He added: “I don’t know, you’ve got all these games going on, you’ve got people walking about, you know… I struggled. It’s the atmosphere. 

“These flat draws, you’ve just got to hope you get through to the quarters and click into a spark. It was very flat out there. I was very bored out there…

“I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, to be honest with you. I was thinking, ‘please, just don’t let this go long, two-three hours’. That’s not a good attitude to have, so I tried to talk myself out of it, but it is what it is, you know.”

The Rocket is now looking to put his ‘boring’ opening match behind him as he looks ahead to his second round clash with Burden, where he hopes he can generate a bit more of an atmosphere from the Belfast crowd.

He commented: “Hopefully the atmosphere is a little bit better than it was tonight. Yeah, listen, it is what it is, you know… it’s paid practice for me. I come here and hit a few balls… it’s all a bit of a bonus, you know, so I’m not really too bothered either way really, just, yeah.”

Former Scottish snooker star Alan McManus also had his say on the ambience around the table, revealing the atmosphere throughout a tournament can often change.

McManus said: “It does as Ronnie says, one night you can go in there and it feels good, warm or cold or whatever. Whatever your mood is, all things can change and day-on-day you can get a different vibe.”

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