Ronnie O’Sullivan OUT of World Snooker Championship in nailbiter vs Stuart Bingham after ‘sportingly’ gifting him frame

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN claimed some referees “have got it in for me” as his Crucible dreams were ended by Stuart Bingham.

The quest to win an eighth world snooker title – which would elevate him above Stephen Hendry – will now roll over until 2025.

GettyRonnie O’Sullivan has been knocked out of the World Snooker Championship[/caption]

ReutersStuart Bingham has progressed to the semi-final[/caption]

For a second successive year, O’Sullivan crashed out in the quarter-finals, this time going down 13-10 to Ball Run.

And for Bingham, who battles fellow qualifier Jak Jones for a place in the final, this was just as sweet as his last-eight victory over the same opponent in 2015.

O’Sullivan was praised in frame 12 by former world champion Neil Robertson for “the greatest bit of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen” after he turned down a chance to pot the red.

Trailing by 14 points, while on a break of 20, it appeared he was unsure whether the black was lying correcting on its spot.

And he opted for the safety approach after more than four-and-a-half minutes of deliberation – as the black ball was respotted about 10 times.

Australian cueist Robbo, 42, praised O’Sullivan for telling ref Desislava Bozhilova had not placed the black back accurately and was therefore giving him an unfair advantage.

But speaking to Eurosport, he said he wanted to prove a point to the Bulgarian official.

O’Sullivan, 48, admitted: “To be honest with you, some of the referees I think they’ve got it in for me.

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“So I just wanted to prove to her that she’d got it wrong.

“I didn’t feel good about having to pot the ball after that. But I just wanted to make a point.

“I’m not that hungry to win in that way. I’m more of a principled person, so once the principle’s been made I can sleep at night.”

The World Snooker Tour refute those allegations and insist the referee acted correctly and appropriately.

O’Sullivan was more upbeat after his match with Bingham, despite his exit from the tournament.

He told the BBC: “It’s just the way it goes I’m actually quite happy, getting through the ball which is more important for me at this stage – it had been a worrying couple of years.

” [It’s] Not the win I’d like to have had but that’s just snooker that’s the way it goes. Good luck to Stuart he played a fantastic match and deserved his victory.

“I’m just pleased that I competed and thought I was cueing okay. A few errors in there but overall okay.

“I knew it would be another difficult tournament. Nobody has got a divine right to win any match. A lot can happen in the game of snooker and that’s just sport.”

O’Sullivan has now lost his two-year status as world No.1 as he is replaced by Mark Allen, who lost in the second round.

Though he started the evening with a 136, O’Sullivan could not cut Bingham from his coattails and even punched the table after missing a routine red.

His mood did not improve when he refused to play as punters returned to their seats beside table one following a mid-session interval.

Bingham, the 2015 world champion, won three frames after the break, with his 104 in the penultimate frame being the turning point.

In the afternoon session, the Slow Man beat the showman as Jones, a 150-1 title outsider, knocked out Trump 13-9.

This clash of styles failed to ignite as Trump, 34, underperformed once again at world level.

Despite being tied at 8-8 on Tuesday, Trump was undone by Jones’s slow pace, failing to dictate the tempo and apply his aggressive snooker.

World No. 2 Trump said: “I just struggled. It was a little bit slower than I’d have liked.

“I couldn’t get rhythm. Every time I came to the table, it felt like it had been ages and I wasn’t able to get into that flow.

“Maybe I should’ve been more attacking in the first sessions. Maybe I played into his hands. I only have myself to blame.”

Welshman Jones — who has NINE siblings — made the quarters on his debut 12 months ago but has now banked £100,000 in prize money.

He sealed this victory with a 106 clearance and aims to be the third qualifier to taste Crucible glory.

Jones, 30, said: “I thought Judd struggled. I’m just playing snooker like I do every day in the club.”

Inside Ronnie’s colourful career

FROM his lightning breaks to blasts at officials, Ronnie O’Sullivan has fired snooker into the spotlight.

The seven-time world champion makes almost as big an impact away from the table as on it.

O’Sullivan has three children – two daughters and a son.

And the Rocket’s on-off relationship with British actress Laila Rouass has also hit the headlines.

He has opened up on battles with his weight and addiction.

While the controversial cueist reckons he wasted NINE YEARS of his career by partying too hard.

Despite being worth £14million, O’Sullivan is renowned for his love of canal boats and snubbing flashy cars.

His rivalry with fellow star Judd Trump has been branded ‘snooker’s greatest feud’.

And Ali Carter had his nose knocked out of joint by the Rocket in their infamous ‘Snotgate’ row.

Check out all our Ronnie O’Sullivan articles here.

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