Hossein Vafaei says he didn't ‘have heart to play against my hero’ Ronnie O'Sullivan after defeat in UK Championship

by 24britishtvDec. 2, 2023, 10 p.m. 29
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Vafaei disappointed to have 'worst day' in defeat to 'hero' O'Sullivan

Hossein Vafaei felt he didn't "have the heart" to play his "hero" Ronnie O'Sullivan as he crashed out of the UK Championship to The Rocket at the semi-final stage.

Vafaei had produced excellent performances on his way to the last four in York, convincingly beating Matthew Selt, Shaun Murphy and Zhang Anda.

Vafaei did well to drag himself back into the contest at 2-2 after losing the two opening frames, but badly lost his way in the subsequent four frames as O'Sullivan emerged a comfortable 6-2 winner to reach the final.

"Today was my worst day. I don’t have the heart to play against my hero. I just don’t know, there was something wrong with me today," Vafaei told Eurosport.

"All of the sudden my body, after 2-2, was so heavy, my eyes went so heavy as well. Like, I don't know, somebody should give me a slap or something to wake me up. Come on, what are you doing?

"I lost to my hero. There was only one man who could stop me in this tournament, I think, and it was only Ronnie O’Sullivan.

"And to be honest with you, when I look at my past and where I am standing right now, that shows how far I have come…I am playing against my hero.

"I was a completely different person today. I was like a child, just sitting there and my body was so heavy. I wasn’t nervous at all; I was trying to give him a good game, but my game didn’t come out."

The pair shared a warm exchange at the conclusion of the match, ending any suggestion there may still have been some animosity between them following Vafaei's taunting of O'Sullivan earlier this year.

Reflecting on his relationship with O'Sullivan now, Vafaei said: "There are arguments in every family. We are all like a snooker family, so sometimes it happens and sometimes it’s good to have that kind of argument, to make your friendship stronger."

O'Sullivan, meanwhile, said that while he understood Vafaei's attitude in coming up against his "hero", he called on the Iranian to change his mindset.

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