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Steve Davis slams Hossein Vafaei break off as “stupidity”

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Hossein Vafaei during his match against Ronnie O’Sullivan (Photo by Nigel French/PA/Alamy Stock)

Steve Davis branded Hossein Vafaei’s break-off “stupidity” after the Iranian smashed into the pack of reds during his match against Ronnie O’Sullivan on Friday.

Breaking off in the second frame after losing the opener, Vafaei stunned The Crucible crowd by slamming the cue ball straight into the pack and seemingly gifting his opponent the frame.

O’Sullivan took full advantage by going on to make a 78 break to double his lead, and the move prompted instant criticism from the BBC pundits.

Six-time World Champion Davis said: “It’s not good to see. It’s not disrespectful to Ronnie but maybe to the game and people who have come to watch a good game.

“It’s not nice, it’s not good. Snooker is not a personal game. Your problem is the table and the balls not your opponent.

“I find this very difficult to analyse, Hossein Vafaei is not cut from the same lump of wood as me. I don’t understand how can you smash up the balls in World Championship.

“I don’t understand how you can then play great in the next frame. What type of brain can do that? To prove your point, whatever, but not in the World Championship.

“I don’t know where he is coming from. Bloody hell to win frame three, after embarrassing yourself, how can you concentrate?

“It’s stupidity, sorry, or you just don’t care about being a World Champion or you don’t care about your profession.

“All things considered, he did well there to win two frames, because mentality he just wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”

The break-off was seemingly in response to O’Sullivan adopting the same approach during their meeting at the German Masters qualifiers in October 2021.

Vafaei whitewashed O’Sullivan 5-0 on that occasion and the pair have since become embroiled in a war of words leading up to their World Championship meeting this week.

O’Sullivan coasted into a 6-2 lead at the end of the first session on Friday, firing in his first century of the tournament (102) along the way.

Shaun Murphy, the 2005 World Champion, emphatically ruled out Vafaei’s hopes of a comeback during his analysis in the BBC studio, commenting: “I only see one winner of this match, particularly with what’s gone on.

“I just don’t think you can take one of the most competitive animals we’ve seen in snooker, poke him and wind him up like that and expect to live to tell the tale.

“It’s just prolonging the agony for me, as far as I see it, this match is over.”

On the controversial break-off, seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry said in commentary: “Before he got down to break-off, he looked up to presumably one of his friends in the crowd and smiled. It’s obviously a pre-meditated break-off.

“It’s what Ronnie did to him in a match. Silly really to get involved in that. It’s the World Championship. What was he hoping to achieve there? Ronnie won’t care. Not good, not clever.”

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