Seven-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan has suffered an injury scare just weeks ahead of the defence of his World Championship title.
O’Sullivan was due to face David Grace in the second round of the World Snooker Tour Classic in Leicester on Sunday evening, but has withdrawn with an elbow injury.
The 47-year-old, who beat Egypt’s Mohamed Ibrahim 4-2 in the first round, wrote on Twitter: “Really disappointed but have had to pull out because of an elbow injury and hope to be back asap.”
The World Championship gets under way at the Crucible in Sheffield on April 15.
O’Sullivan defeated Judd Trump 18-13 in last year’s final to win his seventh title, matching the record total of Stephen Hendry and also becoming the oldest winner.
His withdrawal in Leicester ended his chances of qualifying for the Duelbits Tour Championship in Hull, which runs from March 27 to April 2.
Fellow former world champions Neil Robertson and Mark Williams can also not qualify for the Tour Championship after suffering deciding-frame defeats on Sunday.
Robertson was beaten 4-3 by fellow left-hander Oliver Lines, the Leeds professional making breaks of 32 and 41 in the decider after Robertson had levelled the scores at 3-3 with a 67 in frame six.
Williams recovered from 2-0 down to lead good friend Jackson Page 3-2, only for Page to respond with breaks of 97 and 51 to secure an impressive win.
“Jackson’s number has just been blocked,” Williams joked on Twitter.
Judd Trump, who needs to at least reach the final to have a chance of making the Tour Championship, recovered from losing the first frame to beat Wu Yize 4-1, while Jimmy White ground out a hard-fought victory over Joe Perry.
Two breaks of 63 and a superb 132 gave the 60-year-old a 3-2 lead before Perry forced a decider which White won at 11pm.