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Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images Ronnie O'Sullivan wait to play during his match against Judd Trump, during the Betfair World Championships at the Crucible.
# Trouble
Ronnie O'Sullivan in fresh row as he eyes final
He finished Friday’s play leading Judd Trump 14-10 in their best of 33-frame semi-final

DEFENDING CHAMPION RONNIE O’Sullivan found himself caught up in a new controversy as he moved to within three frames of a place in the world championship final at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

O’Sullivan finished Friday’s play leading Judd Trump 14-10 in their best of 33-frame semi-final, which will be played to a finish on Saturday.

But the four-times world champion found himself being spoken to by female referee Michaela Tabb during the penultimate frame of Friday’s play.

When ‘The Rocket’ missed a ball he expected to slam into the pocket he ran his hand up the shaft of his cue between his legs and Tabb stepped in to issue a brief reprimand, with O’Sullivan appearing to say “I wanna go home”.

He denied making an offensive gesture, arguing his cue was sticky and he was trying to eradicate the problem. He lost that frame but won the next to go four in front.

O’Sullivan, who came into this tournament on the back of a near year-long break from snooker since winning the 2012 World Championship, said Wednesday he’d only returned to the Crucible because he needed the money for his children’s overdue school fees.

Not for the first time in his erratic career he also hinted at a complete retirement from snooker. However, on Friday the 37-year-old O’Sullivan said the man who could change his mind was World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.

“You never know with Barry, he’s always changing things.

“He might go, ‘Look Ronnsy, I’ve got a little tournament for you, you can turn up, do two weeks’ practice’.

“And I might go, ‘You know what, I’m up for that’.

“But I’m not up for the constant putting my life into snooker.”

O’Sullivan though insisted he’d had his fill of the limelight.

“I don’t want to be a celebrity, I don’t want to be on the telly, I don’t want to do any of that sort of stuff,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t want to be a billionaire, I don’t want to rule the world.

“I want to have a purpose in life and there are other things out there that I’d like to do and I’m excited by it.

“I’ve been watching these property programmes where they buy a new house, put a new kitchen in… it sounds a bit easier than playing snooker,” added O’Sullivan, who is estimated to have made more than £6 million in prize money alone from snooker.

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Earlier, Hearn had insisted snooker could cope without fans’ favourite O’Sullivan, the sport’s current biggest drawcard and arguably the most talented player now in the game.

“If he goes will it be the end of my world? No,” said Hearn.

“As much as we need Ronnie I cannot run a sport around the concerns of one player,” added Hearn, who came to prominence as the manager of six-times world champion Steve Davis, snooker’s dominant force in the 1980s.

“Ronnie has retired more times than Frank Sinatra,” Hearn said. “There is no pressure for him to play, it is entirely his choice.”

Meanwhile, in an all-English match between two first-time semi-finalists, Ricky Walden led Barry Hawkins 9-7.

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