The immediate aftermath of the World Championship always leaves us with a bit of an “empty” feeling after all the 17 days excitement and rollercoast of emotions…
It’s a time to pause and reflect …
David Hendon reckons that this World Championship has been revealing about the “real Ronnie”:
RONNIE O’SULLIVAN: SNOOKER’S GREATEST SHOWMAN REVEALS HIS REAL SELF IN HISTORIC TRIUMPH AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s great friend and Eurosport colleague Jimmy White firmly believes he can go on to win as many as 10 world titles. Why not? His game is unlikely to dramatically decline overnight. He keeps himself fit and has the natural talent to underpin the hard work he puts in. Dave Hendon reflects on O’Sullivan’s historic triumph at the Crucible and all it means for him and the sport.
BY DAVE HENDON
Sometimes it’s the ones you most expect.
Ronnie O’Sullivan came to Sheffield this year newly installed as world no.1 and chasing history. He leaves the steel city confirmed as snooker’s greatest ever player with more success surely ahead of him.
His 18-13 defeat of Judd Trump in the World Championship final made for fascinating viewing, but it was the scenes afterwards which will live long in the memory, O’Sullivan in floods of tears as he held on to Trump before hugging two of his children.
This was the real Ronnie, a big-hearted, emotional man with snooker running through his veins experiencing the dawning realisation that he had tied Stephen Hendry’s modern-day record of seven world titles. It was a moment for the ages.
Later, with typical directness, he described the whole tournament as “torture”. But for O’Sullivan, the pain is the point.
In everything he does, he goes all in. Some players, maybe most, are content to earn as decent a living as they can from snooker without ever pushing themselves to breaking point. The same cannot be said about O’Sullivan, whose love/hate relationship with a sport he has bestrode like a colossus for three decades is well documented.
When O’Sullivan goes running, he’s not out for a jog. He takes his body to its limits. In snooker, it’s his mind that is tested to the full. In 2011, beginning to struggle, he went to see Dr Steve Peters, a psychiatrist who has made his name working with sportspeople.
Dr Peters gave him practical advice about controlling his emotions, which O’Sullivan has clung to in the decade since. It has helped him not only to prolong his career but keep thriving at the very highest level.
Some in the sport complain that too many tournaments become the ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan Show’, but this really was. He was followed everywhere by a documentary crew making a film about his bid for a seventh title, which may have acted as extra motivation to focus hard on every aspect of what is needed to win snooker’s biggest event, on the table and off.
Nobody really threatened him until the last day. Dave Gilbert led him 3-0 in their first-round contest but wilted after the match was levelled. Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire could not come back after falling well behind early on. John Higgins dug in without ever playing his best snooker.
The early part of the final was disappointing as a spectacle before Trump made a fight of it. We want the showpiece match to be close as it is often how the championship is defined. But this one will be remembered for O’Sullivan’s historic feat, 21 years in the making since his first Crucible triumph in 2001.
Before the last session of that year’s final, there was a procession of former champions. Jimmy White, who famously never won the title, was also brought out on the basis that he was the ‘people’s champion’. Observing this from his dressing room, O’Sullivan resolved never to be in that position.
He was 25 and his great contemporaries, Higgins and Mark Williams, had already won the game’s most prized title. There were questions as to whether O’Sullivan’s often traumatic personal life would impinge on his chances. Did he have the discipline to last 17 days in Sheffield?
It was Higgins he beat in the final to settle all doubts. More titles followed in 2004, 2008, 2012 and, despite only playing one match all season ahead of the championship, 2013.
His defeat to Mark Selby in 2014 was a setback it took years to recover from, but he finally did by beating his arch-rival in the semi-finals of the 2020 event, on the way to winning title no.6.
And now it is seven. When O’Sullivan first burst onto the scene, many predicted he would become the youngest ever world champion. That didn’t happen, but he is now the oldest.
There is a bittersweet moment at the end of each World Championship. After the ticker-tape trophy presentation has ended and the champion leaves the arena, the backstage crew move in to dismantle the table and set. It means it is all over for another year and we are left to reflect on the 17 days just gone.
The 2022 edition was a memorable one, not just because of its historic ending. The first round brimmed with quality matches, the best of which was Kyren Wilson’s 10-8 victory over Ding Junhui.
Round two was notable for an unexpected cameo appearance by a pigeon and the longest ever frame at the Crucible. The 85-minute affair between Yan Bingtao and Selby would have made grisly viewing anywhere else, but late on in their best of 25 frame encounter was compelling.
The standout night came on the second Monday when Neil Robertson made a 147 break but was defeated 13-12 by Jack Lisowski, who then starred in another thriller in the quarter-finals, losing 13-12 to Higgins.
The ‘Class of ’92’ all reached the semi-finals, where O’Sullivan won one of the championship’s most dramatic frames on a re-spotted black to lead Higgins 10-6 overnight rather than 9-7.
The other semi between Trump and Williams looked set to fizzle out when Trump led 7-1 but the Welshman roared back to take it the full distance, proving yet again that the pay-off for long matches is the excitement of a close finish after such emotional investment from the audience.
The final was eagerly awaited, but Trump did not really show up on day one. His A-game is frightening but he did not produce it anywhere regularly enough.
However, he grew stronger on Monday afternoon as O’Sullivan began to make mistakes. A huge fluke in the last frame of session three helped leave the match tantalisingly poised at just 14-11.
But when the evening came, it was like a new match again. O’Sullivan sprinted for the winning line like a man who sensed it was his destiny.
As the prize presentation unfolded, Hendry stood by our Eurosport commentary box watching on. His record of seven world titles was set in 1999. That year he beat O’Sullivan in the semi-finals at a time when Ronnie was a somewhat troubled young man.
Back then, it seemed impossible for anyone to threaten Hendry’s title tally, or indeed any of his records. With great persistence, O’Sullivan has come for them. He says they are just numbers but there will surely be a day when he looks back on it all with genuine pride.
His great friend and Eurosport colleague Jimmy White firmly believes O’Sullivan can go on to win as many as 10 world titles. Why not? His game is unlikely to dramatically decline overnight. He keeps himself fit and has the natural talent to underpin the hard work he puts in.
Yet Hendry was never quite the same after his seventh victory. The intensity went and the titles dried up. The mental demands of top-level snooker cannot be underestimated and how many more times O’Sullivan can stand at the bottom of the mountain gazing up at the climb ahead remains to be seen.
But all that can wait for another day. For now, the glory once more belongs to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Snooker’s greatest showman has done it again.
And Ronnie talked to Hector Nunns about the upcoming documentary:
Fly-On-The-Wall Ronnie O’Sullivan Documentary Gets Its Fairytale Ending
A year in the life of Ronnie O’Sullivan got the fairytale ending – but it won’t be the last dance for the Rocket.
The 46-year-old is being hailed as the greatest player in history after equalling Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles with an 18-13 win over Judd Trump at the Betfred World Championship.
World No1 O’Sullivan, the oldest Crucible champion, is not done yet – suggesting Hendy may only get to share the record for a year, and that he could play into his 50s and go for 10.
But the fly-on-the-wall film documentary crew that have been following him around this season were able to capture momentous moments in the iconic Sheffield arena.
Having spent years insisting records meant nothing to him, the images of an overwhelmed O’Sullivan sobbing in the arms of beaten opponent Trump and celebrating with his children told a different story.
And O’Sullivan was quick to see parallels with the film about basketball legend Michael Jordan’s last 1997-98 season with the Chicago Bulls that saw the NBA superstar win a sixth championship.
O’Sullivan said: “I loved that documentary The Last Dance about Jordan’s final season at the Bulls.
“And this is a bit of a dream ending to mine, the guys have been following me six or seven months. You couldn’t have envisaged this – they have had a result.
“I loved Michael’s energy, professionalism and his confidence. He knew how to get the best out of people. He let Dennis Rodman go to Las Vegas for a few days because he needed it.
“Then he didn’t come back so he had to get on a plane and go and get him. It was a great insight, there were so many different characters.
“It’s harder in an individual sport, definitely. I said to Steve Peters that I wished I was in a team sport. At least then you can take a week off or be rested for a bit.
“You can have that relationship with your manager where you can kind of pick and choose when to play. In an individual sport you’re kind of forced to play even if you feel you don’t want to.
“So it’s tougher, but I chose this sport and there’s not a lot I can do about it now.
“I’m good with pressure so having the crew around wasn’t an issue. In some ways, it might have inspired me. And things just seem to work out – so I’m not surprised that it ended like that.
“And it wasn’t all Sheffield, hopefully a load of it gets in there.
“In Llandudno they asked me what I normally do and I said ‘I go out running at eight in the morning, if it’s p**sing down with rain I’m still going out’.
“They got in the car and followed me, and got me running up the Orme – and it was p**sing down. Whatever I have done, they have followed me. Everything has been as it is.”
O’Sullivan again recognised the huge part sports psychiatrist Steve Peters has played in his career. Four of his world titles have come since Peters stopped him quitting in 2011.
And despite the torrents of praise and acclaim coming his way, the Rocket claims he is not and never will be ‘the greatest’.
He added: “If it hadn’t have been for Steve Peters I would probably be in some hot country like Portugal living in a nice beach house and coming to the UK once every six weeks to see my family.
“The size of winning the seventh title and the enormity of it is so important to everybody- and I can feel that.
“But I don’t consider myself the greatest ever at all. There are a lot of players out there that I wish I had elements of their game in my game. I try to develop my game on what they do better than me.
“I just enjoy playing, enjoy competing. Does it really matter who’s the greatest? To me it doesn’t.
“We all make this sport fantastic. You guys in the media, the players, the officials. It’s just great to be at the high end of your sport.
“I won’t consider myself the greatest even if I win eight, not at all. There are a lot of players out there that I wish I had elements of their game in my game. I try to develop my game on what they do better than me.
“I just enjoy playing, enjoy competing. Does it really matter who’s the greatest? To me it doesn’t.
We all make this sport fantastic. You guys, the players, the officials. It’s just great to be at the high end of your sport.
“I won’t consider myself the greatest even if I win eight, not at all. I don’t want to be considered the greatest. I want to be known as someone who loves snooker and loves playing.
“I have a love/hate relationship with the game because I hate it when I’m not performing well.
“When I’m playing all right I get a great buzz out of it and enjoy it. I’m able to cope with not playing well better than I used to.”
The video, shared by Betfred, shows Rob Walker, John Virgo and Shaun Murphy reflect on the championship, the class on 92, funny and awkward moments, interviews with the champion, the Crucible staff, Barry Hearn and more … It’s really good stuff!
It’s the last year of the Betfred sponsorship. You know my views on gambling and my worries about how much snooker still relies on the betting industry for sponsoring, but I must say the Betfred hospitality was always fantastic through the years at the Crucible.
2 thoughts on “David Hendon and Hector Nunns reflect about Ronnie’s personality and achievements”
Hi. Unbelievable achievement from Ronnie….at 14-11 he looked in real trouble but came out and proved when he’s on his game……its game over. It was brilliant to see his dad there to share his moment . Congrats champ and my very best to your dad……regards….Eugene Hughes
Laureus performance and life-work.
A new Mekka : ))
In terms of table tennis: Where is ML8 who beat J-OW7…and When?
I mean everybody draw a bold line, and so remember. Cause in merit Ronnie is DONE.
I wish all goods!
(and least a Masters147…! : ))
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