RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has withdrawn from Champion of Champions due to mental fatigue.
The Rocket, the tournament’s defending champions, were scheduled to face China’s Zhang Anda in the first round in Bolton on Wednesday.
But after flying back to Britain from the Tianjin International Championships last weekend, the seven-time world champion says he is tired and stressed and not ready to play this week.
O’Sullivan said on social media: “Hi guys, I just wanted to let you know that I’m unfortunately withdrawing from the Champions of Champions event.
“Mentally I’m feeling a bit drained and stressed and I want to take care of my mental health and body. I’m sorry to all the fans, but I’ll come back stronger.”
Speaking in the Far East last week ahead of this announcement, O’Sullivan explained that he could not continue “back and forth, tournament by tournament, you have to pick your battles”.
The Essex potter said: “There is a lot of traveling involved. My mental health is very, very important to me.
“My doctor put pressure on me…he’s constantly monitoring me. I don’t want to burn out.
“Mental exhaustion or mental stress or whatever you call it. I don’t want to reach that point. That’s why I now have to be very careful when choosing my events.”
The world No. 1 did not take part in the Northern Ireland Open last month, withdrawing before it began for medical reasons.
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Behind the scenes, O’Sullivan is battling a potential disciplinarian.
He was expelled from the World Snooker Tour (WST) to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) after making derogatory comments in media interviews.
The Crucible King has heavily criticized the way the sport is run in recent weeks.
And then he claimed the snooker superstars had “almost” committed blackmail when they clashed with players over scheduled appearances at major tournaments in China.
Three-time British champion Ding Junhui is flying over from China to take part in an all-Chinese opener in O’Sullivan’s absence.