Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan declared victory over rookie Jamie O’Neill as akin to driving behind a novice on the road.
The 43-year-old rescued a 2-0 deficit to win O’Neill 4-3 and prevent a 19.com English Open shock but two missed chances and a foul on the red were all that prevented the world number 105 from recording the biggest win of his career.
Despite giving glimpses of his ability with a century in the fourth and two half-centuries that sealed the victory, O’Sullivan’s display was littered with wild shots and apparent carelessness.
The Rocket cut a relaxed figure throughout the contest and admitted afterwards that he had decided to enjoy himself because he felt he had little to gain against such a relative novice.
“I don’t care about the score,” he said after the close-fought encounter. “A win’s a win.
“It was a great moment for him, but I had completely nothing to lose and to be honest I don’t enjoy that dynamic. I’d rather play someone in a similar position to myself.
“When you play people that are just happy to be there, you might as well just smash a few balls around.
“There’s no point trying to play the right shot because every time you do, they play a wrong shot and throw it away.
“It’s like following a driver who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. You’re trying to second guess it and in the end you have a crash yourself.
“They’re harder matches than against the top players, because against the best you understand each other and you can get into it.”
O’Sullivan hit the headlines in 2018 after commenting that the competition’s venue smelt like urine.
Despite admitting that the aroma of the K2 Crawley had improved, he suggested the facilities were still largely not fit for top-level snooker, but explained its location contributed to his decision to attend the competition.
He said: “I think they’ve put some air fresheners in to be fair, but you’d have to do a lot to change the venue as far as I’m concerned. It’s exactly as I expected it to be.
“But Crawley is just up the road so it’s a case of going in and out.
“If I win or lose, it’s a win-win situation. If I had to travel a long way, I’d probably swerve it.”
Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White