Ronnie O’Sullivan today insisted he will return to action "fighting stronger and harder than ever" following his dramatic Maplin UK Championship walk-out.
‘The Rocket’ stunned everyone at the Barbican Centre in York when he conceded his quarter-final against Stephen Hendry after only five frames, the first four of which he had lost.
The 31-year-old’s incredible exit prompted several pundits to wonder whether he has a future in the sport, especially as O’Sullivan has often appeared disenchanted with the green baize.
But in a statement expressing regret for his actions, the world number three claimed he would be back at the snooker table in the near future determined to erase the memory of this week.
"I am a fighter and I will be back on my feet fighting stronger and harder than ever very soon," said O’Sullivan, who may be punished by governing body World Snooker for the embarrassment he heaped on their second-most prestigious ranking tournament.
"Anyone who knows me knows I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my game and I got so annoyed with myself that I lost my patience and walked away from a game that, with hindsight, I should have continued.
"I wish I could have played a better game but I had a bad day in the office. I wish I could have given Stephen a better game and I’m sorry I didn’t stick around to sharpen him up for his semi-final.
"I’m also really sorry to let down the fans who came to see me play - it wasn’t my intention to disappoint them and for that I am truly apologetic."
Hendry was awarded a 9-1 win and went forward to a last-four clash with world champion Graeme Dott, who overcame Steve Davis in a 9-6 victory.
It was not the way the Scot wanted to progress, however. He would have relished the chance to register a confidence-boosting success against a player he describes as the best he has faced.
"I would rather have played the match and played really well," said the world number one. "I’m not saying I would rather have lost because that would be stupid - I’m in the semi-finals.
"But in a strange way I would rather have played out the match whatever would have happened because I was enjoying it and I was playing well. It was still going to be a very tough match to win.
"At 4-1 I didn’t think the match was won. I didn’t sense from Ronnie that he had given up. There was still a huge match to play and it was a hollow victory."
Dott has never beaten Hendry but at least one Scottish finalist is now guaranteed, with the possibility that John Higgins could make it an all-Tartan affair if he beats Peter Ebdon today.
"The semi-finals of the UK Championship would be a nice place to start beating Stephen," said Dott, aiming to become the sixth player to win the top two ranking events in the same year.