Telegraph & Argus Interview

Ahead of the third led of the Eleven30 series in Goffs , the “Telegraph & Argus” , from Bradford, have published this article .

Telegtaph&Argus 2016-08-20 .png

WHEN you have won five World Championships, six Masters and five UK Championships, you have probably earned the right to pick and choose your tournaments.

That is where Ronnie O’Sullivan – arguably the greatest snooker player ever – is at the moment.

‘The Rocket’, who plays Judd Trump in the Snooker Legends Eleven30 Series at Bradford’s Richard Dunn Sports Centre next month, has had enough of feeling he has to get on the treadmill that the snooker circuit can be.

O’Sullivan admitted: “I feel like a goldfish swimming backwards and forwards about in a bowl. I want to get to the ocean. Do you know what I mean?

“I want some diversity in my life, such as exhibitions and my TV show, but it is all about controlling your emotions and I have them more under check these days.

“But having said that, I don’t always feel like practising, as I have been doing it for 25 years and I am 40 now.

“It depends how the mood takes me. I could practise for an hour, an hour and a half or anything up to four hours, and it is good in the sense that I can switch my phone off, get away from everything and relax, but I don’t want to feel that I am forced to do it.”

O’Sullivan and former world No 1 Trump are playing a six-match best-of-11 frame series for a winner-takes-all prize of £30,000.

Ex-UK champion Trump took the early lead with June victories in Frimley Green (6-5) and Belfast (6-4) and there are rounds at Goffs, County Kildare tonight and Peterborough (September 3) before the final weekend in Bradford (September 10) and Preston Guild Hall (September 11).

O’Sullivan turned professional in 1992, so has competed against the best players in the world for two-and-a-half decades, and brackets Trump in a small group of the most talented players over that period.

He said: “You are looking at Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, John Higgins, Paul Hunter and Judd who, like me, can take a frame away from their opponent so quickly that they are like rabbits in the headlights.

“Judd and myself have a 30-second shot clock in the Eleven30 Series but, to be honest, we probably don’t need it as we play so quickly – and that is what the crowd want. They want to be entertained, they want to leave the arena feeling happy.

“John played in a more methodical fashion than the high-tempo snooker of the others but of those five, Hendry was the hardest – he was mentally unbreakable.”

When you are likely to have to play a rival in the latter stages of a tournament, O’Sullivan says there is no point in getting too close to them.

He explained: “You are not going to be best mates with someone and then face them in a final. It just doesn’t work like that as you need to have that edge, like Phil Taylor, Rafael Nadal and Noval Djokovic have in other sports.”

Having said that he does not necessarily want to play in a welter of tournaments in the new season, ironically O’Sullivan has quite a busy schedule.

He said: “I have entered three Chinese tournaments and three European tournaments, as well as playing in the UK and the World Championships, where I might even have to qualify, but that’s okay as Ding Junhui got to the world final as a qualifier.”

A total of 1,200 tickets for the O’Sullivan v Trump clash at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre, which is co-promoted by MJK Sports Events, have already been sold but 200 remain.

Tickets cost £25 and £35 and can be purchased on 07414-960956 to avoid booking fees.

Doors open at 4pm and, in addition to the 11 frames, there will also be an exhibition by six-times world runner-up Jimmy White at 5pm and trick shots and entertainment from former UK champion John Virgo at 6.45pm, with the main event starting at 7.30pm.

Co-promoter Mick Speight, who is a Bingley-based former snooker professional, said: “I can remember playing at the Richard Dunn against Jimmy in 1996, so it is really special for me to be holding it there again with Jimmy, John, Ronnie and Judd.”

I’m not sure about the third Chinese tourbnament though … unless Bucharest is now part of China. Hum … but it’s good to read that Ronnie intends to play in the UK Championship and the World, even if he has to qualify.