Ronnie O’Sullivan explains to Desmond Kane how he managed to claim a record sixth Masters title with a 10-1 win over Barry Hawkins despite battling back problems after an eight-month absence. The five-times world champion is working as a Eurosport pundit at this week’s German Masters in Berlin, but admits he will consider his position as a player if discomfort around the table does not improve.
I was very happy to win a sixth Masters title because I didn’t expect it. The impression everyone had of me during the semi-final win against Stuart (Bingham) was that I was down on myself, but if anyone hasn’t noticed, I have not displayed that type of attitude since starting to work with Doctor Steve Peters in 2011.
I would never display that attitude again unless there was a very good reason for it.
Now that brings me onto the reason why I’ve been self-critical – I’m more than happy to put it out there.
“Since doing my back in, I’ve not played one decent session of snooker, let alone a good week of snooker.”
It was a bad injury, one that my body doesn’t seem to have recovered from.
“I can’t get into the right position on the shot, and if it doesn’t improve, I can’t see myself continuing to play.”
I love snooker, and I love playing, but playing in discomfort is not something I can do for a long period, there’s enough pressure anyway, added with the extra stress of the discomfort or inability to get my body in the right position.
It’s a no no. I just won’t be able to handle the emotions and the psychological problems that will come with it.
“There were times – and I’m talking about 70 per cent of time – I had no idea or confidence I was going to pot or get position on my next ball at Alexandra Palace.”
And do believe me I have asked myself, has this now become psychological? How I know it’s not psychological, is because I can’t even get on the shot right left handed.
Again, that has never happened to me. My left hand has always felt perfect.
I’m still having treatment on the back, which is connected to losing strength in my left leg, I’m now doing gym work to build the strength back up to what it was before the accident.
So if it’s not in my mind, I have to hope my body repairs itself over time. This is why I don’t want to make any knee-jerk decisions.
I need to give myself at least six months, or possibly a year.
If it’s still no good, then I would imagine that’s it, it won’t be getting any better.
‘I ALMOST QUIT MASTERS DUE TO ANXIETY’
I felt it was important to clear this up as I didn’t really get the chance to go into detail over my anxiety about my playing at the Masters, and inability to set myself right on the shot.
Now I just want to try my best with what I’ve got, and hope to get back to what I was before the Masters.
I was very surprised to have won the Masters considering the time I had out, coupled with the inability to get on the shot right.
I do believe I won it through a combination of moments of brilliance, coupled with everyone playing their C game against me. Apart from my match with Mark Selby in the quarter-finals, I thought that was a decent match.
I must admit by the semi-finals, I felt myself giving up, my mind was gone.
I had a deal with doctor Steve that if I made the final, he would come down, and thank God he did.
I needed him more than ever.
Steve helped me refocus on what needed to be done, and in particular there was one bit of advice that got me through on the final day which I prefer not to divulge. Again, I really did feel like my mind was going, I was on the edge, and I was about to tip over to sabotage mode.
But thanks to Steve I didn’t, I owe Steve for that one and many others too. I love working with Steve, he’s on another level and if I could afford Steve to be around everyday, I would pay it.
‘I’LL CONTINUE TO MIX EXHIBITIONS AND TOURNAMENTS’
I do have lots of exhibitions planned for the future, and I’m really enjoying them.
It gets me away from home. It’s important to feel like I’m working as all the other guys out there are doing a lot more than me, but rather then play in every event, I’m choosing to do the exhibitions.
It is like match practice but better. There’s still that desire to perform in front of an expectant crowd.
I think that’s really good for your game.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Neil Robertson and Jimmy White front Eurosport’s exclusive live on-site coverage of the German Masters this week. In part two of his latest blog on Wednesday, he predicts who he expects to perform well in Berlin, writes about his exciting plans for a new form of snooker and why he continues to love Celebrity Big Brother.