MASTERS 2021 EXCLUSIVE: WHO DOES RONNIE O’SULLIVAN THINK WILL DOMINATE SNOOKER IN 2021?
Ronnie O’Sullivan has told Eurosport he expects Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby to dominate snooker in 2021. The world champion feels there is a “massive gap” between the three leading table lights and the rest of the chasing pack due to consistency of technique, scoring power and desire to lift trophies.
Snooker is entering the era of the big three with Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Mark Selby set to dominate the sport in 2021, according to world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Ahead of the 47th staging of the Masters involving the game’s top 16 players in Milton Keynes between January 10-17 – the first triple crown event of the year – O’Sullivan feels the green baize triple g-force are well clear of the chasing pack and perfectly placed to continue their trophy-winning exploits.
While O’Sullivan lifted a sixth world title at the Crucible last August, the rest of the potting pie in 2020 was snaffled up by a triumvirate with a real appetite for silver service.
Trump carried off a record six ranking events finishing his year with the World Grand Prix before Christmas, Robertson claimed three including a third UK Championship and Selby has started the 2020-21 season by picking up the European Masters and defending the Scottish Open.
Looking into the crystal snooker balls does not appear to bring a sense of overriding opportunity for the rest of the field.
“This is my prediction. I think the top three are playing to such a high standard, it will be one of those three that win the majority of the events,” said O’Sullivan, who begins his quest for an eighth Masters title against Ding Junhui on Wednesday 16 January.
“If there are 25 tournaments, I reckon 20 of them will go to them. Judd will win six, Neil will win five and Selby will win four. I just think it is that sort of level.
“Mark Allen might win one, Ding (Junhui) might win one, I might win one, someone will win the Shoot Out.
“I just think they are playing to such a high level and the players from 17 downwards in the rankings are all a bit hit and miss in comparison.”
Stuart Bingham was Masters champion last year, Stephen Maguire carried off the Tour Championship, Mark Allen won the Champion of Champions while Kyren Wilson, Luca Brecel and Scott Donaldson were Championship League winners in 2020, but O’Sullivan feels trophy-winning chances are becoming thinner on the ground than the thinnest of snicks on the table.
The record 37-times ranking event winner edged Selby 17-16 in the World Championship semi-finals, but lost to his fierce rival 9-3 in the Scottish Open final.
He also suffered a 9-7 defeat to Trump in the Northern Ireland final before being flattened by the world number one 6-1 in the World Grand Prix last four last month.
Trump has remarkably lifted 20 ranking events in only nine years, leaving him only two behind Mark Williams in the all-time list with the Welshman’s 22 coming over a 24-year period.
Robertson and Selby are both on 19 titles with Robertson winning a trophy in the sport every year since 2006.
“There’s a massive gap between those three and maybe the number 18 in the world,” explained the world number three.
“I’ve played those three now and you don’t get a lot off of them, but you seem to get away with quite a bit against the lower-ranked players.
THERE IS A MASSIVE GAP NOW BETWEEN THEM AND EVERYBODY ELSE.
“Allen slipped in and won one, Kyren Wilson won one. There will always be that chance for a player to maybe catch one of them on their off day in a final or a semi-final, but it is difficult.”
I like the non-commital “someone will win the Shoot Out” … 😎
Stephen Hendry gives update on sensational comeback plans
Stephen Hendry says he will “probably” make his sensational return to professional snooker next month.
The seven-times world champion revealed he was looking at February’s Welsh Open as a possible tournament for which to mark his dramatic comeback into the sport.
The news was revealed when Hendry joined Eurosport snooker presenter Andy Goldstein in a live Instagram chat on Wednesday afternoon from his home.
The Welsh Open – one of snooker’s most established ranking events – is due to start on February 15 at a venue to be confirmed.
When asked by a fan when ‘Crucible King’ Hendry was planning to make a comeback, the snooker legend said: “Probably the Welsh Open.”
Hendry also said he was looking at playing the new Pro Series event in March, which World Snooker Tour announced at the end of 2020.
Last year Hendry took the snooker world by storm when he announced he would be coming out of retirement following an impressive semi-final run in the World Seniors Championship in August.
Since then Hendry has been working closely with SightRight coach Stephen Feeney – a man who has coached recent world champions Stuart Bingham, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan – to get his game back to a top standard.
However despite the headline announcement, Hendry has not yet featured in the 2020/21 snooker season.
He was planning a return for the UK Championship but announced a delay to his comeback in November because he wanted to play in front of a crowd and not behind closed doors and stated at the time his game was not yet ready.
But the likelihood of fans returning to live snooker events by the time the Welsh Open starts is almost impossible with both England and Wales in lockdown until mid-February at least.
Returning in a slightly lower profile event is probably the best option for Stephen Hendry who, despite a rather poor record on the WSS tour so far, will face huge exprectations from his faithful fanbase. I’m very surprised that he is considering the Pro Series, but, on second thoughts, it’s actually a good idea. Lots of snooker in a short time span, against seven different opponents. Why not?