Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan pulls out of Welsh Open over 'stage fright'

Snooker star Ronnie O'Sullivan has announced he has pulled out of next week's Welsh Open in Llandudno over "stage fright" brought on by anxiety.

The world number one, 48, has enjoyed a successful season so far, winning the UK Championship, the Masters and the World Grand Prix.

But the seven-time world champion's career has increasingly been dogged by health concerns, which have seen him withdraw from lower-ranking events.

O'Sullivan wrote on X: "Morning guys, I wanted to let you know that I've decided I'm not able to play in Llandudno next week.

"It's hard to explain but for years I've suffered from stage fright at times, brought on by anxiety. It's not something I can predict or control but I try to manage it as best as I can.

"I'm sorry to everyone who's bought tickets but I just can't get my cue out when I feel like this and I think this is what's best for me right now.

"I still want to be around the tournament so I'll be doing some work with Eurosport and I hope to see you all there."

The Welsh Open is the seventh ranking tournament he has decided not to play this season, as well as the Champion of Champions event in Bolton in November.

He also pulled out of the German Masters in January, saying he needed to "make health and wellbeing the priority".

"It's been a tiring and challenging season for me so far, despite how it may seem with the tournament wins, so hope you understand," he told his German fans on X at the time.

It came after O'Sullivan limped through his World Open qualifier against Alfie Burden in Barnsley last month - where he was given special permission by World Snooker to wear trainers due to a foot injury - to book his place in the final stages of the tournament.

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Earlier in January, he described Alexandra Palace, which has staged the Masters tournament since 2012, as "disgusting" and "dirty".

O'Sullivan has been investigated by his sport's governing body over comments he made about unsanctioned exhibition matches, as well as a foul-mouthed rant about his bitter rival Ali Carter following his Masters final win.

In an interview after the match, he said: "He needs to sort his f****** life out. I'm not going to skirt around it any more, tip-toeing on eggshells around someone like that. He's a f****** nightmare."