Ronnie O’Sullivan has slammed referee Olivier Marteel for “looking for trouble” after the pair were involved in a heated exchange during the first session of the World Championship final.
The incident came in the eighth frame after O’Sullivan had snookered himself on the yellow and failed to escape, returning to his seat and gifting Judd Trump the chance to clinch the frame.
Referee Marteel then approached O’Sullivan to issue a warning for alleged misconduct, covering up his microphone whilst doing so.
O’Sullivan reacted furiously to the warning, replying: “Tell me what did you see? You saw nothing.” and “Don’t start”.
Trump also appeared unhappy with Marteel for issuing the warning before he had taken his shot, offering: “You could have said it after the game.”
Trump went on to win the frame to trail O’Sullivan 5-3 at the close of the first session, with ‘The Rocket’ then leaving the arena without shaking hands with the referee.
In a mid-session interview with Eurosport from his dressing room, O’Sullivan said of the incident: “I just think he seems to be looking for trouble, I get a vibe from the guy.
“He can check, they’ve got hundreds of cameras out there, they can check them all in slow motion.
“I’ll let the ref talk to you but I’m not going to have any of it because I think he’s just trying to create something.
“He needs to deal with that, not me.”
Tension had flared between O’Sullivan and Marteel during the fourth frame over the repositioning of the cue ball after a foul, with the situation taking several minutes to be resolved.
This is not the first time O’Sullivan has been pulled up on his conduct during this year’s World Championship, with the six-time World Champion having already been referred to the WBPSA’s disciplinary committee for an alleged ‘lewd gesture’ during his First Round match against David Gilbert.
Bidding to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, O’Sullivan recovered from losing the opening frame of the final by reeling off five in a row with two century breaks along the way.
Trump, however, took the last two frames of the session to trail by two going into Sunday evening’s resumption.
On the match itself, O’Sullivan summarised: “It was bits and pieces, we both played alright in spells.
“I played alright to go 5-1 up and Judd played a good last two frames.
“At 5-3 it’s early days, I could have nicked it to go 6-2 but it wasn’t meant to be and that’s just the way it is.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan reacts furiously to a warning issued by Olivier Marteel ??
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) May 1, 2022