SHEFFIELD: Five-time champion Ronnie O'Sullivan bowed out of the World Championship on Wednesday (Apr 26) after spurning a shot at a 147 break during a 13-10 quarter-final loss to China's Ding Junhui.
O'Sullivan looked to be on course for a maximum break after potting 12 reds and blacks, but then opted to pot the pink over the black before clearing the table for a 146.
It took him to 11-9 down, but fourth seed Ding held firm, finishing off with a cool 117 to set up a repeat of last year's final against Mark Selby.
"I just play the balls as I see them," said O'Sullivan, who embraced Ding at the end of the contest at the Crucible in Sheffield, northern England. "There is no plan. I was playing for the black, but I just didn't get on it."
Asked about the financial rewards on offer for a 147, O'Sullivan said: "I'm just having a bit of fun. Let's not go down that route. Let's just enjoy the match and wish Ding the very best."
O'Sullivan at least had the consolation of putting himself in line for the tournament's £10,000 (US$13,000) top-break prize.
At last year's Welsh Open he passed up on a maximum break opportunity after learning the prize money was £12,000, saying he "didn't think the prize was worthy of a 147".
He was criticised by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn.
Defending champion Selby had earlier set two new marks for the tournament's highest break as he strolled to a 13-3 success against Hong Kong's Marco Fu.
Selby made 139 in the 13th frame and followed it up with a sublime 143 two frames later, confirming his status as tournament favourite.
"Marco's a great guy and a great player," Selby said. "After one of the frames, when I'd made an 80 or a 100 break, he looked at me and said, 'Ah, you're struggling with your game, are you?' It was nice of him to say that."
Fu said: "It was very tough. Mark was at his best. Everything was top-class. You can't really do anything but admire him."
John Higgins completed a breezy 13-6 victory over Kyren Wilson to reach the last four for the first time since winning the last of his four world titles in 2011.
He will now face Barry Hawkins, who beat Stephen Maguire 13-9.