Hossein Vafaei smashed into the balls from his opening break as he fell behind Ronnie O’Sullivan in their second-round match at the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible.

The Iranian had been strongly critical of O’Sullivan in the build-up to the match following a German Masters qualifying tie in 2021 in which Vafaei said he felt disrespected by O’Sullivan playing a wild break-off shot.

Vafaei responded by repeating the tactic at the start of the second frame, but it came at a cost as O’Sullivan responded with a break of 78, mirroring his score in the first frame as the reigning champion opened a 2-0 lead.

The Prince of Persia’s rush of blood to the head drew gasps from the Crucible crowd and was heavily criticised by Steve Davis.

Six-time world champions Davis told the BBC: ‘Smashing the balls up is going back to Quinten Hann who basically bailed out by smashing it up.

Vafaei smashed the reds open on the break off before Ronnie produces another break of 78 👀@WeAreWST | #CazooWorldChampionship pic.twitter.com/CwdvP2jQNG

‘He wasn’t trying to attack or anything, he just didn’t want the pressure of the matches.

‘It’s not necessarily disrespectful to Ronnie O’Sullivan it may be considered disrespectful to the game of snooker and the people who come along to watch.

‘They want to come and see a great game. It’s not good, it’s not nice and it’s not a personal game snooker. Your problem is the game and the balls not your opponent.’

Those sentiments were echoed by Shaun Murphy, who added: ‘Without your composure you lose everything.

‘That’s the glue that keeps you together when you’re out there. You’ve got your technique and shot selection, but your composure knits it all together.

‘If you lose that you lose everything.’

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