World Championship 2018 – Ronnie’s previews and goals

This interview, probably originally done for Eurosport, has been published in several media, here is one

O’Sullivan playing down chances of Crucible record as World Championship bid begins

Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t normally turn down a challenge – he’s a man more accustomed to scaling the heights of every obstacle he comes across.

Yet Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world snooker titles is one mountain even the Rocket claims he won’t set himself the task of climbing.

On paper, O’Sullivan isn’t that far away from matching Hendry – five world titles to his name already and arguably in the form of his life as he prepares to head to the Crucible for the 26th time next week.

Statistically speaking, the 42-year-old has had the best season of his career. In fact, statistically speaking, no snooker player has ever had a better campaign – O’Sullivan’s five ranking event titles to date equals the single-season record.

He’s the bookies’ favourite heading into the 2018 Betfred World Championship – where he opens up against world No.18 Stephen Maguire on Saturday – and anything other than lifting the trophy aloft two weeks on Monday, for the first time since 2013, would be viewed as a disappointment.

However, O’Sullivan freely admits the 17-day marathon in Sheffield doesn’t particularly suit him – “some people might enjoy that sort of slog style but it’s not my favourite tournament because obviously it goes on a bit too long,” he says – and his numerous interests outside snooker mean he could well retire before having too many more shots at Hendry’s magnificent seven.

Instead, the world No.2 has other goals he still wants to accomplish on the baize.

“I’m motivated by stuff that I think is achievable,” explains O’Sullivan. “Breaking the 36 ranking events that Stephen Hendry holds [O’Sullivan currently has 33] is something that is achievable, so that is one of my goals.

“A thousand centuries is definitely something I will do at some point [he has currently made 937], as long as I don’t have a fatal accident that prevents me from playing!

“That’s something that’s definitely on my radar and obviously the 18 major titles [World Championship, UK Championship and Masters crowns] that me and Hendry both jointly hold is something that I’m in a position to move on and beat. They’re three goals that I’d like to tick off.

“Seven world titles is probably a mountain I wouldn’t want to set myself to climb because I don’t know when I’m going to stop playing.

“I haven’t set a date, but while things are still going pretty well I’ll keep playing. It’s probably the best results I’ve had this season, although my form has probably been better.

“That’s kind of weird to say – how do you have your best season and yet you feel like your form has not been as good as it has been in previous seasons where you’ve maybe not won as much?

“It just goes to show that sport can be pretty unpredictable and you just have to suck it up sometimes and see what you get at the end of it.”

Ealing Times: Ronnie O'Sullivan

The days of the mid-noughties and early 2010s that saw O’Sullivan threatening to quit snooker on a seemingly annual basis and taking a year off from the sport at a time are firmly behind him – thanks in no small part to working with renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters since 2011.

But he has also found plenty of other interests to keep him balanced – he’s a successful snooker pundit on Eurosport, a published crime author and has filmed a documentary called American Hustle for the History Channel, where he explores America’s history with the game of pool.

10 thoughts on “World Championship 2018 – Ronnie’s previews and goals

  1. Hi Monique,

    I was wondering if you got a comment from me today? I wrote it earlier this mooning and I don’t see it. Maybe it will be coming if not I will re-post. Many thanks. Regards, Donna


  2. Alex, thank you for your kind comments. However it’s Selby who won the International Championship… but yes, I wasn’t too optimistic about the Shanghai Masters and Ronnie won it. I’m not saying that Ronnie can’t win this one. I’m saying that he has a difficult draw. Much more difficult than Higgins for instance… The first rounds are the hardest.

  3. I am really hoping for Ronnie to win. Winning the World title this year would be a fantastic way to cap off his season! But like Ronnie said in the interview it is a very long tournament, I can’t even imagine how gruelling it must be.

    I think Ronnie deserves a lot of credit for making this season such a pleasure to watch. I hope he can keep up his energy level for another few weeks. Regardless of how much he practised before every tournament…the work involved to get through each round to the final and then win the final five times can’t be underestimated, that would have required a great effort on his part. As far as this tournament I think a lot will depend on how he’s feeling the first match with Steven Maguire. We have a snooker table in our home and I watch my husband play every night and although I am not comparing him to the pros he is a very good snooker player. But sometimes it just doesn’t click for him for no apparent reason and he could have an off night. So I hope people aren’t too critical of Ronnie or any other player for that matter if they don’t proceed to the next round.

    Fingers crossed that Ronnie will have a successful session with Maguire tomorrow. Best wishes Ronnie!

  4. On the contrary, I think Ronnie is quite capable of beating Selby this time. I think that the most difficult for him will be the first round – if he gets the win he will probably win the tournament. As far as Selby is concerned, to be fair he’s got quite a difficult draw: Perry, then highly likely Mark Allen then Higgins or Trump somewhere down the line. I mean that he should get to final first. Ronnie, to be fair has quite an easy draw up to the final. But main thing is his concentration. First match is clue to whether he is mentally prepared or not.

    • I have to say that I totally disagree with you when you say that Ronnie has an easy draw. Graeme Dott, a former World champion is certainly no push-over and has beaten him over 4 sessions in 2006, Neil Robertson and Mark Williams are both former World Champions and Williams in particular is in great form. And, if Ding reaches the Semi finals, that won’t be easy either. I think he has a very tough draw in fact: he could face someone who has been in a World final at every round except the first.

      • Moniqe, first of all Id like to say that I’ from Belarus and have been closely following your blog from the very beginning. I really appreciate your opinion based on knowledge of Ronnie and statistics. Still you’ve got to agree that not all of your predictions come true. Namely, this season I remember you predicted Ronnie was not going to to well in International Championship in China due to tiredness. But that was the tournament that he emphatically won at the end. As far as WCH is concerned, I mean there are no easy draws at all. But at the moment the most difficult players for Ronnie a Selby, Higgins and Trump. And he can play them only in the final. Clearly, I remember the 2006 WCH. But Ronnie was out of sorts, mentally anyway. Robbo and Willams are great players but I prefer them in the quarters rather than above-mentioned trio. And in terms of focus and concentration I think Maguire and Dott (remember he should beat Carter first) are better that say Chris Wakelin or Tchepchaya for instance. So my view remains that if Ronnie wins the first match against Maguire, he’ s got a great chance. But anyway, Monique, personally take my hat off you for all your efforts, all your words and all your predictions….Can’t wait for more…

  5. I’m not feeling very optimistic about Ronnie’s chances, despite the fact that he’s “due” to win based on his season-long pattern of alternating losses and wins.

    It doesn’t help that his draw got significantly more difficult after the qualifying, but the bigger issue is that it’s hard for me to imagine anyone beating Mark Selby who if not yet the King, is perhaps at least the “Count” of the Crucible…

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