Ronnie hasn’t had the best season but he wasn’t downbeat about it. Speaking to Phil Haigh he insisted that he enjoyed it once he was over his “post Crucible dark places”
Ronnie O’Sullivan reflects on ‘marvellous’ season after World Championship exit
Phil Haigh Wednesday 26 Apr 2023 9:02 pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan looked back on a ‘marvellous’ season despite his shock World Championship exit at the hands of Luca Brecel, saying he has largely been happy after something of a low last summer.
The Rocket lost the final seven frames of the match to Brecel as the Belgian Bullet prevailed 13-10 in an incredible contest at the Crucible.
It was an unlikely defeat for the world number one, but it has not ruined his season, which he has largely enjoyed, winning both the Champion of Champions and the Hong Kong Masters this campaign.
O’Sullivan admits that he was down for some time after winning his seventh world title last year, but once he had recovered from that low, he has had a good time.
‘I think it’s been marvellous. Lots of smiley faces,’ O’Sullivan said of his season. ‘It started off a bit miserable, I’ve got to be honest, I was on a bit of a comedown from the World Championships.
‘So I didn’t really feel like playing much. I knew why, so I just took some time off the practice table, played the tournaments, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had a great season.
‘I judge my season on whether I was happy and I’ve been very happy.
‘May, June, July, August I just didn’t want to play, it was weird. I can only put that down to such a massive high. It might have been something else.
‘You go through periods like that, people fall in and out of love with what they’re doing. I just chose not to practice, took some time out and that was great.
‘I came back in January, put the time in and I’ve really enjoyed my practice and the tournaments I’ve played in.
‘Alright, I haven’t won as much but well-being, happiness, they’re the most important things. Snooker, that’s a bonus. If it goes great, I’ll take that. If it don’t go so great, alright. There’s always another tournament.’
Jason Francis, Ronnie’s manager, speaking to Phil Haigh expressed a completely different perception about the situation
Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘incredibly disappointed’ with early World Championship exit, believes manager
Phil Haigh Wednesday 3 May 2023 5:36 pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan was left ‘gutted’ by his quarter-final exit from the World Snooker Championship this year, believes his manager Jason Francis.
The Rocket was beaten by eventual champion Luca Brecel in the last eight, after downing Pang Junxu and Hossein Vafaei in his opening two contests.
The defending champion was looking good after battering Vafaei 13-2 and then leading the Belgian 10-6, but seven frames on the spin from the Bullet saw him shoot into the semis and oust the world number one 13-10.
O’Sullivan took the loss very graciously, heaping praise on the performance of Brecel and saying he has enjoyed a ‘marvellous’ season, but his manager says there was certainly a lot of disappointment over the defeat.
‘I think he was gutted,’ Francis told the Talking Snooker podcast. ‘I think that one thing I don’t have to tell you is he knew he was in a winning position.
‘But that takes nothing away from the way Luca played, I’ve never see anyone play like that against Ronnie here.
‘This place, Sheffield, it either makes you or it breaks you and I think the people who come through and can handle it, they become real champions.
‘People say it defines their career, if they’re successful here, but it can also define the way they play in the future, because there’s no harder place to play.
‘So I think he came up against someone who played unbelievably well, but I also think that he’s incredibly disappointed, because if you look from the outside there was an opportunity there this year.’
Francis has been working with O’Sullivan for the last decade, and explained that a huge part of his job is trying to keep people from distracting the Rocket when he should be focussing on snooker.
‘My role with Ronnie is filtering chaos and trying to put out fires before they come,’ he explained. ‘One of Ronnie’s faults is his generosity, so you can turn up at a tournament, it will start off being me and him but very soon the circus is in town.
‘Someone who’s a friend of Ronnie or wants to come and see Ronnie…what Ronnie probably should say is: “Look, I’m here to win the World Championship, I’ll see you in a couple of weeks for a dinner.” But he’s so generous, they want to come and see him, and suddenly we end up with an entourage.
‘Part of my job over the last 10 years has been managing that, but also be respectful that ultimately he’s the player, he has to decide.
‘I don’t want anything I say to ever thought to have cost him a match. There’s nothing that I can do to make him win a tournament or lose a tournament. It’s the player and the table, but my job is to try and bring some stability, maintain relationships with people and be professional. I think that’s why it’s worked with Ronnie for as long as it has.’
The reasons Jasons put forward are quite interesting. Some players, like Luca f.i., seem to be able to switch in and out of their “zone” very easily and naturally, but I know that this is not the case for Ronnie.
That said … yes, this season has been poor but it’s been the case for many top players and it would be interesting to fully understand why. Ronnie ends the season still ranked number one and he’s 14th on the one year list as it stands today, despite missing some events because of the elbow injury. Judd Trump is 13th on it with only 7000 points more than Ronnie despite not missing any event. John Higgins (23d), Mark Williams (19th) and, very surprisingly, Neil Robertson (22d) are out of the top 16 on that list. It’s been a very bizarre season indeed and the only explanation I can think of is the shambolic structure of last season’s calendar with big gaps alternating with some very intense playing periods.