Ronnie O'Sullivan was left feeling bad about his conduct after suffering a bout of rest rage during a dramatic 6-5 victory over Ding Junhui at the Players Championship in Milton Keynes.
The six-times defending world champion missed the final green off its spot with the rest in the 10th frame before throwing the mechanical bridge to the ground in a fit of pique realising he had blown a golden opportunity to win 6-4 needing only to clear to the black to progress.
Why Selby’s unapologetic pursuit of greatness gives snooker headache
Ding mopped up the colours to force the decider, but an error in attempting an early long red allowed O'Sullivan the first chance in the 11th frame which he duly pounced upon as a fabulous 95 secured a quarter-final meeting with Jack Lisowski on Thursday night. Lisowski defeated Martin Gould 6-3 earlier on Tuesday.
- Players Championship 2021: Draw, Schedule, Results
- 'It's like having 30 kids, how do you expect to know their names?' – Rocket Ronnie on Groundhog Day
"I felt a bit bad there, I threw the rest to the floor. I hope I haven't upset Ding. I was just frustrated you know," said O'Sullivan, who quickly recovered his stride after losing 9-8 to 750-1 outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.
I just couldn't get to grips with my game. No matter how philosophical you be, when you are not striking the ball as you want to, it can be frustrating.
"I don't dwell on it, but it's hard out there when you are fighting the elements. The elements of snooker shall we call it.
"It can be such an easy game when you just flow and the breaks are flying in left, right and centre like it was in the Championship League and most of the Welsh Open.
"But then all of a sudden, the wheels come off and its like you've sucked the well dry then there's not really much there.
I'm not really good at just performing day after day. I lose something. Sometimes a defeat is good for me because it gives me the chance to have a few days off.
"Then I go into a tournament with a nice feeling if that makes sense."
O'Sullivan has moved back above Neil Robertson as the world number two following his run to the Welsh Open final and is the 7/4 favourite to claim a third Players Championship and a £125,000 first prize following top seed Judd Trump's 6-5 defeat to Stuart Bingham on Monday.
Ding contributed breaks of 65, 71, 53, 53 and 60 only to suffer a second 6-5 defeat to O'Sullivan in successive months following a similar outcome in the Masters first round.
O'Sullivan enjoyed a couple of 58 breaks and a 103 in establishing a 5-3 lead before the dramatic late rally from the three-times UK Champion set up a taut final frame.
"I was out running nine miles the next morning after the Welsh Open final so it's all good," added O'Sullivan.
'Get in there!' - The moment Brown shocked O'Sullivan to win Welsh Open title
World Seniors Championship
World Seniors Championship - White and Hendry among snooker legends eyeing glory
'Wow!' - O'Sullivan, Selby and Murphy with Shot of the Tournament contenders