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Ronnie O’Sullivan praised after ‘greatest bit of sportsmanship ever’ against Stuart Bingham

Ronnie O’Sullivan produced what former world champion Neil Robertson described as “the greatest piece of sportsmanship I have ever seen in any sport” after a bizarre incident during the Crucible quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The world number 1 had created an excellent opportunity to extend his lead over Stuart Bingham to 7-5 when referee Desislava Bozhilova spotted another black, preventing him from seeing the pot corner on the next red ball.

However, O’Sullivan had noticed that the black color was rolling marginally out of place and apparently thought that the red might be drinkable if the color was placed in the right position.

After several attempts, Bozhilova managed to respot the black in such a way that it did not roll and indeed seemed to leave open the possibility of a chance to win a frame. However, O’Sullivan opted to decline the pot before losing the frame and going into the mid-session interval level at 6-6.

“If he plays it safe here, it will probably be the greatest piece of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen in any sport – unbelievable,” Robertson said in comments for the BBC. “He could have played red like that. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“It’s absolutely incredible what Ronnie did there: refuse a pot with a high probability of a 7-5 lead because he didn’t believe he could reach red when black was perfectly in place. It’s not the referee’s fault either. It’s just one of those situations in this sport where not even an inch can make the biggest difference.”