Mark Selby branded the victorious Ronnie O’Sullivan as ‘disrespectful’ after losing a thrilling semi-final decider at the World Snooker Championship.
Selby was 13-9 and 16-14 up in the contest but lost the last three frames to the Rocket, who bids for his sixth Crucible title when he faces Kyren Wilson across the weekend.
But Selby felt his opponent wasn’t completely playing in the spirit of the game in the latter stages, choosing to play ‘hit and hope’ shots instead of working his way out of difficult situations.
The tactic seemed to work for O’Sullivan, who reeled off breaks of 138, 71 and 64 to reach the final in Sheffield for the seventh time.
“In the last three frames, I didn’t really do much wrong. In the decider, I was 60 behind and did well to get back in the frame, felt as though I played some really good safety shots and every time I had Ronnie in trouble, he seemed to get out of it,” said Selby.
“I felt he was being a bit disrespectful to me and the game, not many players would just get down and hit them at 100mph when you put them in a snooker.
“Some would look to work it out or put you in trouble. It just felt like he was doing that throughout the match and I thought it was a bit disrespectful to me and the game.
“I’m gutted – any round you lose at the World Championships, whatever the round, is gutting because it only comes around once a year and you want to do well.
“It’s irrelevant that I’ve won it three times before, I still try my hardest to win it again.”
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, defended his tactics in the 17-16 win, feeling it was his best opportunity to get out of the difficult situations put to him by the three-time champion.
Since breaking the record for quickest match at the Crucible in round one, the Rocket has had to scrap his way through each round, with matches over Ding Junhui, Mark Williams and Selby providing a tough route to the final.
In the latter two he has had to come from four frames down but, in spite of the comebacks, he still feels his game isn’t quite hitting perfection.
But he has 35 frames across two days of snooker in which to put that right, with a small number of fans now also being let in to the venue for the first time since the opening day.
“I’m not good at getting out of snookers and I don’t want to give 40 points away [in fouls],” said O’Sullivan in response to Selby’s comments.
“I’m never going to be good at getting out of them. Ray Reardon tried to teach me for a while, I got okay at it but it takes too much time practicing, I’d rather focus on the break-building.
“I hope he doesn’t feel that way because we get on really well and you’ve got to play to your strengths.
"For three days I've just been looking for a cue action where I can hit the ball properly.
"If I can find the cue action then I will enjoy the final. Cue action first and everything else is a bonus."
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.