A frustrated Ronnie O'Sullivan ended up complaining to the referee and pleading with fans to stop distracting movements at the World Snooker Championship.
The Rocket was settling over a shot when he was clearly disturbed by the behaviour of a fan in the first few rows of the seating at the famous Crucible Theatre during his semi-final clash with John Higgins.
The tension was palpable for most of the match as the legendary snooker duo locked horns on the biggest stage in the sport in Sheffield, and O'Sullivan felt as though fans were moving in his eyeline.
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While O'Sullivan kept his composure and did not lose his temper over the incident, his frustration was clear to see as he asked the referee, Marcel Eckardt, to step in and give the fans a warning over their conduct.
"Just maybe mention, for both players, it's quite off-putting," O'Sullivan suggested to Eckardt. "Just the eyeline. Just the eyeline."
Then, turning to the crowd, O'Sullivan asked while smiling and giving a thumbs-up: "Is that alright?!"
"It was another phone," explained Dave Hendon, on commentary for Eurosport at the time.
"I'm not sure what more the referees can do apart from making polite requests, and sometimes not-so-polite, just to turn them off.
"It was just a bit of movement that O'Sullivan was noticing in his eyeline."
In the Eurosport studio, snooker legend Jimmy White was not impressed with the conduct of the fans in the Crucible and said it should be much better for the sake of the players.
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"There was a bit of commotion in the audience, a few people moving on the shot," White said.
"He [the referee] is not forceful enough. Ronnie is telling him. You do get people in there that are moving, their phones are going off. You can do things like that. It is wrong.
"If you are sitting next to a guy and his phone is going off ... it is really off-putting for the players and off-putting for the fans.
"Ronnie regrouped there. He waved to the guy because he did not want to embarrass him, and he played a really difficult brown under the circumstances."
Alan McManus added: "The thing about it is, if one person moves, it is worse than 35 people moving.
"There are a lot of good refs nowadays. They have to be stern with the crowd."
It is the fifth occasion in O’Sullivan’s illustrious career that he has occupied the world No. 1 ranking, and the first time since 2019, as he continues his pursuit of a record-equalling seventh world title.
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