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Ronnie O’Sullivan withdraws from 2023 Champion of Champions

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O’Sullivan will not play in Bolton this week (Li Ran/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has pulled out of the Champion of Champions, stating the need to look after his mental health.

The Rocket is a four-time winner of the popular invitational event, beating Judd Trump 10-6 in last year’s final.

He was due to launch his title defence against Zhang Anda on Wednesday in a repeat of their International Championship semi-final last weekend, which the Chinese won 9-6.

However, O’Sullivan has withdrawn on the eve of that match and been replaced Group 1 by Six Red World Championship winner Ding Junhui, who will travel from China to complete the line-up, with the seven-time Crucible king admitting the busy schedule had taken its toll on him.

“Hi guys, just wanted to let you know I’m unfortunately withdrawing from the Champion of Champions event tomorrow,” he wrote on X.

“Mentally, I feel a bit drained and stressed and I want to look after my mental health and my body.

“I’m sorry to all the fans, but I’ll be back stronger.”

He told the Daily Record: “I can’t do backwards and forward, tournament after tournament. You have to choose your battles.

“There is a lot of travelling involved. My mental health is very, very important to me. My doctor is always monitoring me.

“I don’t want to get burned out. I don’t want to end up cracking up with my mental exhaustion or mental stress.

“I have to be very careful with picking and choosing my events now.”

The Champion of Champions is the latest event from which O’Sullivan has withdrawn.

He also pulled out of the Championship League, European Masters, British Open and Northern Ireland Open earlier this season, and revealed during the English Open he was suffering the long-term effects of tennis elbow.