Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted Si Jiahui’s progression to the semi-finals of the World Championship caught him by surprise.
The 20-year-old is the first Crucible debutant to advance to the semi-finals of the biggest event in the sport since Andy Hicks in 1995.
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While O’Sullivan admitted he was unaware of the Chinese sensation before the tournament, those who have been beaten by him – Shaun Murphy, Robert Milkins and Anthony McGill – were glowing in their praise.
“I am really surprised by the young Chinese boy, I did not really know who he was,” O’Sullivan said in the Eurosport studio. “Now he is playing some unbelievable snooker. He is incredible to watch.”
O’Sullivan has taken note of what the beaten players have said about Si, and compared him favourably to 2019 world champion Judd Trump who was seen as a prodigious talent at a young age.
““He has played some fantastic snooker,” O’Sullivan said. “What I am impressed about is every time a player has come off the table who has played him they have said he is special.
“That is a bit like with Judd Trump when he came along.
“Yeah he (Trump) made some mistakes, a bit lacking in safety and raw around the edges. But we all knew what amazing talent [he has]. He had something that had to be developed.
“That is what we are seeing here.
“The players know. They have all said special, not very good, special. That is a bit of a statement from another player.”
There were three qualifiers in the quarter-finals, and that did not come as a shock to O’Sullivan.
“I was not surprised by the quarter-finals being three qualifiers,” the seven-time Crucible champion said. “When I looked at the first-round draw, the qualifiers could have been the seeds. The standard is that good.”
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