O'Sullivan backing trophy-less Lisowski to make pundits eat their words

·3 min read
Flamboyant left-hander Lisowski was due to face Kyren Wilson in the first round of the Masters before testing positive for Covid-19
Flamboyant left-hander Lisowski was due to face Kyren Wilson in the first round of the Masters before testing positive for Covid-19

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes Jack Lisowski is being given a hard time by snooker pundits – and is backing the Cheltenham cueman to prove them wrong, writes Will Jennings.

World No.14 Lisowski lost to Judd Trump in the World Grand Prix final last month before being forced to withdraw from the prestigious, top 16-only Masters after testing positive for coronavirus.

Lisowski, 29, has reached four ranking event finals but is yet to convert any into his first piece of silverware on the busy snooker tour.

37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan reckons Lisowski needs to be treated more fairly by commentators – and the flamboyant left-hander, renowned for his potting flair, has what it takes to make them eat their words.

Asked if the Gloucestershire potter will go on to win trophies in the future, the 45-year-old said: “Yeah, definitely.

“I feel for Jack as well, because a lot of the pundits have now said ‘look, I’m going to lay off him for a bit’ because they feel like they’re having a go at him. A lot of them say they get frustrated with him because they watch the way he plays.

“I’ve played Jack before in practice and he’s murdered me because he’s played to such a high level. When you think someone can play that well, you think if he could put it together on consecutive days, he would definitely win tournaments.

“I think he proved that in his last tournament [the World Grand Prix] – he played fantastic snooker.
“A lot of the pundits are in a difficult situation because they have to say what they think and I think with Jack, they expect a lot more. Not from his ability to play the game, but to get better results with the talent that he’s got.”

Lisowski faced a battle to qualify for the Masters but a positive Covid-19 test result received on Saturday means he was replaced in the tournament by world No.20 Gary Wilson.

Bristol’s world No.1 Judd Trump also tested positive and was replaced by 2017 Masters finalist Joe Perry.

Lisowski, a Riga Masters, China Open, Scottish Open and Grand Prix finalist, has appeared at the last two renewals of the competition but failed to win his first round matches against Ding Junhui or Kyren Wilson.

This year’s event was due to be held at Alexandra Palace but a surge in coronavirus cases means the tournament was moved behind closed doors to Milton Keynes.

The Covid-secure setup at the Marshall Arena is where all of this season’s competitions have been held and Lisowski has struggled at the European Masters, English Open and Northern Ireland Open.

Withdrawing from the Scottish Open through illness extended his misery while meanwhile, O’Sullivan is also yet to taste silverware after romping to a sixth World Championship title last summer.

Both players have come under fire but the Rocket, who has beaten Lisowski in both of their two meetings, believes critical pundits are only doing their job.

The world No.3, who will face 2011 Masters champion Ding Junhui on Wednesday, added: “I think at the end of the day, the pundits have got a responsibility to tell the truth.

“Their job is not there to not upset Jack, to not upset me, to not upset Judd, to not upset Neil [Robertson].

“They’ve got to go ‘right, I’ve just watched this game of snooker, and I now have to give an honest opinion.’”

Watch the London Masters live on Eurosport and Eurosport app from Jan 10