Try to forget Christmas, briefly, as Wednesday was five times Snooker World Champion Ronnie O'Sullivan's 43rd birthday. (Yes, he's even older than Roger Federer!). 'The Rocket' gave himself the ideal birthday gift by qualifying for the Quarter Finals of the 'UK Snooker Championship' Tournament in York, as he defended the Title.   He was competing against young Jack Lisowski who had reached the last sixteen players in this contest for the first time in his career. Lisowski made a good start by winning the first frame . Both players played at a fast pace , averaging just over  17 seconds to hit each shot. This made for speedy frames, each  taking around just 12 minutes to complete.


Soon the Rocket found his rhythm , playing confidently to go into the lead by three frames to one. He potted a great shot on the black ball, and made only a few unforced errors. The Birthday Boy looked fully in control, masterfully playing tricky reds and a superb shot on the blue in the fifth frame. Lisowski wasn't playing poorly, but simply wasn't in the same league as his opponent. The Rocket had a break of 85 , and went on to score another century   to lead by four frames to one. Lisowski looked to have 'run his race'  as O'Sullivan strode rapidly and purposefully around the snooker table, potting numerous  winners, moving so fast that at one stage the Referee almost backed into him! Eventually Lisowski conceded, the Rocket winning the match by an extremely impressive six frames to one. Happy Birthday Rocketman!  He said he would celebrate with some fine dining...He's hoping to make it a 'Magnificent Seven' by winning the UK Championship title for a record-breaking seventh time. That really would be some birthday present!

Also at the same Tournament, current World Champion Mark Williams ( aka 'The Welsh Dragon')  looked to be on course to  a win over Scotland's Stephen Maguire , when he went into the  lead by four frames to nil. However, Maguire made  a  great comeback to level the match five frames all. It would all come down to the deciding eleventh frame , with Maguire successfully potting a double on the red balls, at a crucial time. A stunning shot which helped him win the match by six frames to five.  It was an outstanding performance. 


Earlier in the week O'Sullivan had made sporting headlines with some controversial comments about 'breaking away' from playing to qualify in too many  snooker tournaments. He wants to form a breakaway Champions League-style Snooker Tour consisting of the best snooker players. He claimed: " You don't see Leyton Orient turning up to play Lionel Messi at Barcelona. It does not happen. It is demotivating."

Staying with the football theme, there was also controversy at the 'Ballon d'or' Football Awards. Not over Real Madrid and Croatia's midfielder Luka Modric winning the award for the Best Men's Player at the World Cup, and ending the previous  dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for over a decade, but when the winner of the Women's  Ballon d'or award Norway and Lyon's Ada Hegerberg  was asked by the ceremony's host if she could 'twerk.' This sparked off a series of sexist allegations. Maybe Hegerberg should have replied "can you?" (!) But she was keen to play down any negativity, hoping the award inspires young girls to take up playing football.



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