Two interviews, one with Ali Carter, one with Ronnie

The media are always after stories, and the needle between Ali Carter and Ronnie is one topic they like to bring forward and write about.

Now this interview with Ali Carter brings a quite different light on the topic 

Ali Carter thanks Ronnie O’Sullivan after grabbing his Masters spot, but they’re still not best pals

Phil Haigh

Monday 20 Jan 2020 2:51 pm

Ali Carter insists he has no animosity towards Ronnie O’Sullivan, but isn’t sure the feeling is mutual.

The Captain took the Rocket’s place in the Masters this year as O’Sullivan didn’t fancy playing in the tournament, saying he had other things to do with his time. Making the most of the situation, the world number 17 beat three former world champions – Mark Selby, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy – to reach the final, where he was narrowly beaten by Stuart Bingham.

The 40-year-old picked up £100,000 for his week’s work but predictably faced a string of questions about O’Sullivan over the tournament, with whom he endures something of a strained relationship.

He’s always been on my Christmas card list, I’m not sure I’m on his though,’ said Carter after defeat in the final at Alexandra Palace.

The pair have known each other for the best part of 30 years and have never been best mates, but tensions really bubbled over at the 2018 World Championship when O’Sullivan nudged Carter with his shoulder between shots, and they got into a heated exchange.

Carter and O’Sullivan met during the Masters this year, as Ronnie was working in the Eurosport studio.

The Captain insists things were cordial and he thanked the Rocket for allowing him the opportunity to play at Ally Pally. ‘I’ve done a couple of interviews in the studio, he seems very pleased for me. I said “thanks Ron.”‘

Carter said after his semi-final win. Carter has moved to clear up the infamous ‘shoulder barge’ in the past, saying that the veterans have put the daft incident behind them

Yeah I spoke to him plenty about it, actually, there’s no hard feelings, it was heat of the moment stuff,’ Carter said after qualifying for the 2019 World Championship.

‘I haven’t been the fondest of Ronnie over the years, but I’ve got the ultimate respect for him as a player and what did give me ultimate respect for him was at the UK Championship, at the hotel when I was having breakfast.

‘This was some months later and he came over to me, he doesn’t need to speak to me, and he came over and said, “Ali, I’d just like to apologise and there’s no hard feelings” and he shook my hand

‘So I thought to myself “hats off to the man,” and he looked me straight in the eye when he said it and he meant it. It’s all water under the bridge and he’s a good guy.’

The Rocket said of the event in 2018: ‘I’ve known Ali since he was 10 years of age, sometimes it gets a bit tense out there but it’s all behind us.’

The clash is in the past, but don’t expect these two Essex lads to be sharing a pint any time soon.

The last sentence for me is totally unecessary. Ronnie took the initiative to go and talk to Ali, and to apologise. Ali has accepted the apology and says that Ronnie has gained his ultimate respect doing this. So why not if circumstances lead to it?

Then there is this other interview, this time with Ronnie who seems to be in a good place.

Ronnie O’Sullivan backs himself as the best in the business: ‘If I had to choose a snooker player, I’d take me all day long’

Phil Haigh

Sunday 19 Jan 2020 10:57 am

Ronnie O’Sullivan says his days of learning from other players are over and is completely confident in the skills he brings to the snooker table.

The Rocket has been watching on at the Masters this week, after choosing not to play in the event and sticking to his gig in the Eurosport studio instead.

The five-time world champion saw fellow veterans Ali Carter and Stuart Bingham book their places in the Alexandra Palace final on Saturday night as they beat Shaun Murphy and David Gilbert respectively. O’Sullivan was asked if he still picks up pointers for his own game while taking a watching brief and the Rocket was entirely dismissive of the suggestion.

‘I don’t think there’s anyone I can possibly learn from, I don’t want to learn from anyone else,’ Ronnie told Eurosport. ‘I love what I’ve got, I love what I do, I’ve tried to harness and just better what I’ve got.

‘There’s players in the game who have got things: Selby has got more grit, Higgins has got a better temperament. ‘But if I had to choose a snooker player, I’d take me all day long, I like my chances.

‘Every time I get on the start line I think I fancy my chances, whoever I play. If I don’t perform and the other guy plays well, fair play, but over a 30-year period, I like what I’ve got.’

O’ Sullivan disappointed many with his decision not to play at Alexandra Palace this year, especially as he said it was because he had other things to do and then spent his week at the venue on punditry duties.

However, even without Ronnie, it is an all-Essex final on Sunday between Carter and Bingham, neither of whom have ever reached this stage of the event in their lengthy careers to date.

The Rocket didn’t make an outright prediction, but is very confident in the mental strength of Bingham going into the huge match. ‘He’s got a great temperament, he’s won the World Championship, big matches,’ Ronnie said of Ballrun.

‘He knew Dave Gilbert is playing well tonight [in the semi-finals]. He come out there and looked the more comfortable player. ‘He hasn’t produced his best snooker, but he’s done it when it matters. He won a match yesterday not playing great, just because of his temperament.

‘He’s going to be fine tomorrow, don’t worry about that.’

Obviously it was done before the final and Ronnie was right.

The title IMO is misleading. Ronnie doesn’t say anywhere that he is the best, he says that he’s happy with what he has and wouldn’t want to be otherwise. Well, after years of beating himself up for not being able to be perfect at the table 7/7-24/24 this is a very welcome change of perspective.

There was also a similar but more complete article in Polish published by ES Poland, and here is the automatic translation

The prestigious Masters tournament was held in London last week. 16 best players from the world ranking took part in it. However, we did not see the third player in the classification. The game makes him happy – I have a good relationship with sponsors and I can determine with them which events to play. China is a very important market, so I have to play in some tournaments there. I will not attend just any event. I can choose. But I know that if the world championships were to start even tomorrow, I could take part in them. I feel good and I enjoy playing – said the Englishman. “I left Masters, but it’s not related to money,” he continued. – This tournament doesn’t just suit me and that’s why I didn’t play there. Thanks to this, I have not had stress recently and felt no pressure. During the holidays I spent time with my children and partner. It was a nice time because I didn’t have to prepare. All in all, I gave up many events in my life, but I have no reproaches for this – the player assured. He loves his own style. O’Sullivan is a role model for thousands of snooker players from around the world. In his career he won five world championship titles. He also won 36 ranked and 34 unranked tournaments. “I don’t want to learn anything from other players,” he explained. – I love how I play. My style gives me a lot of pleasure. There are probably no elements that I would like to do better. Maybe I could get something from John Higgins or Steven Hendry, who no longer performs. They are perfect snooker players. All in all, however, I like my game the most. Many players announce that they will beat me, but then we approach the table and it turns out that my snooker is better. I am satisfied with what I did – he assured. – There are a lot of things I can do outside of tournaments. It could have been like this in the past, but I thought I had to do only the game. I participate in many businesses and just enjoy snooker. I don’t have to play for money anymore, I do it with passion – added the 44-year-old. At the end of the unique meeting, Ebert asked O’Sullivan to recreate the 2008 World Cup game. The Englishman made a maximum break in the second round match against Mark Williams from Wales. At one point he had to show off an extremely difficult play. Now it was only in the third attempt that he managed to approach the perfect blow. Then he won the entire tournament.

It’s probably the same interview, but reported with more details.

Ronnie confirmed what Jimmy White has hinted at during the Masters. Ronnie wanted to enjoy family time without having the “burden” to prepare for a major event.

I have put the bits I found most interesting in bold.

Enjoy the reads.

An interview with Ronnie ahead of the Masters 2020 and a Preview

This interview was conducted by Eurosport before the Christmas break.

Thank you for making it available to me.

ROSMaster2020Interview-1ROSMaster2020Interview-2ROSMaster2020Interview-3

And now for a bit of last 16 preview for what it’s worth… 

Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy

Judd Trump is the defending champion and, surely, he starts the tournament as favourite given how well he has played over the last year. In fact it was his 10-4 win over Ronnie in last year final that started it in earnest. That said he couldn’t really get a tougher opponent than Shaun Murphy in his first match. Shaun had a nightmare season in 2018/19 but is playing much better this season. Judd hasn’t been at his best just before the holidays break, he’s lost to Nigel Bond of all people in York and failed to qualify for the European Masters. Now, he was probably very tired and in need of a break. Yesterday, he won Group 6 in the Championship League Snooker. He looked in good form but CLS form doesn’t mean much: in 2010 Ronnie and Mark Selby played in Group 2, just before the Masters, finished 6th and 7th of the group, both relegated, only to meet in the Final of the Masters the next week. Shaun has been very solid this season, making it to three big finals, winning one. However, one of the finals he lost was a 10-3 defeat to Judd. I expect Judd to win, but the match to be close, probably 6-4 or 6-5. 

Ding Junhui v Joe Perry

I can see only one winner here and it’s Ding. Ding has won the 2019 UK Championship last month, playing really well. He also qualified for both the 2020 European Masters and the 2020 German Masters. During the last month of 2019 he has beaten Ali Carter, Ronnie, Yan Bingtao, Stephen Maguire, Matthew Stevens and Peter Ebdon (never easy). In fact, over the last two months he’s lost just one match. Joe Perry on the other hand has had an indifferent season so far, and was dreadful in the CLS over the last two days. His only hope is that Ding has gone off the boil completely during the holidays break. My prediction: a comfortable win for Ding: 6-2 or 6-3.

Mark Selby v Ali Carter

Mark Selby has been a bit in and out so far this season, as he has been since mid 2017, but he still won two ranking events over the last months, including the last one of  2019, the Scottish Open. He has also qualified for both the 2020 European Masters and the 2020 German Masters. He should feel reasonably confident again. Ali Carter hasn’t got past the quarter finals in any event this season so far, and that only quarter final came at the six-reds World Championship. Add to that the fact that when things don’t go his way, he’s prone to getting frustrated and throwing his toys out of his pram. I can see only one winner, Mark Selby. I won’t predict a score. Depending on Mark’s form it could be close or totally one-sided.

John Higgins v Barry Hawkins

Neither players have been at their best so far this season. John Higgins though has reached a semi final twice, where he lost to Judd Trump both times, Also, he hasn’t lost to any low ranked player all season: the only players out of the top 16 who beat him were Graeme Dott, Kurt Maflin and Yan Bingtao. Barry Hawkins is going through a terrible season. He won the 2019 Paul Hunter Classic, but other than that he didn’t go past the QF in any event, and he only reached that stage twice, in the 2019 Shanghai Masters and in the 2019 China Championship, rather early in the season. Their head-to-head is pretty close: it’s 9 wins to Higgins for 8 to Barry, and Barry actually won the last of their encounters, and the only one that was played this season. So it’s hard to call. John Higgins has got slightly better results this season, but his record at the Masters is not great. I will go for 6-4 either way.

Neil Robertson v Stephen Maguire

Both Neil Robertson and Stephen Maguire have blown hot and cold this season. Neil won the 2019 Champion of Champions, beating Judd Trump by 10-9 in the final, and Ronnie by 6-5 in the semi final, both very high quality matches. He’s also reached the semi finals in the 2019 Shanghai Masters where Ronnie beat him by 10-6, but in the ranking events he hasn’t got past the last 16. Stephen Maguire has won the 2010 six-reds World Championship, and was runner-up in the 2019 UK Championship but other than that hasn’t gone past the last 16 in any event. So, this match is very hard to predict. Neil Robertson though is coming to Ally Pally with a goal…

NeilMastersTweet

A very honourable goal. I believe that this will motivate him big time. Because of that, and because he’s been doing really well in invitational events so far, I will go for a 6-4 or 6-3 win for Neil.

Mark Allen v David Gilbert

Mark Allen has got a very strange season so far. He’s reached the semi finals 6 times out of 11 tournaments he’s played in. In the others he lost in the last 64 twice, in the last 32 twice and in the last 16 once. David Gilbert’s season has been just as bizarre: he’s made it to one final, one semi final, 4 quarter finals … but also lost in the first round 5 times.  The main factors in this match will probably be, one, that this is David Gilbert first ever Masters and the London crowd is usually quite animated and loud, and two, that Mark Allen was bitterly disappointed by his performance last year and will want to redeem himself. The rowdy atmosphere should suit him. Prediction: 6-3 or 6-2 to Mark Allen. 

Kyren Wilson v Jack Lisowski

If one forgets the Paul Hunter Classic, Kyren Wilson’s season has been rather poor: one semi final at the 2019 World Open, one quarter final at the 2019 Shanghai Masters and a couple of last 16. Jack Lisowski’s season has been similar: a final at the 2019 Scottish Open, a quarter final at the 2019 Shanghai Masters and a couple of last 16. It’s also Jack’s first Masters and, in my opinion, Jack tends to be a bit overawed when facing a big stage for the first time. This is a very big stage with a unique atmosphere. Because of this I expect a comfortable win for Kyren: 6-1 or 6-2. Now I wish I’m wrong here.

Mark Williams v Stuart Bingham

Now this one promises to be hard fough match, but not necessarily high quality. Mark Williams season hasn’t been great but there were signs in the recent months that he is back practising and playing well again. He lost to Shaun Murphy by 10-9 at the 2019 China Championship, and won 6 matches out of 6 in the round-robin phase of CLS Group 5 earlier this week. The problem with Williams is that he doesn’t seem to be able, or find the necessary motivation, to do it consistently. Stuart Bingham hasn’t got past the quarter finals in any event, and reached that stage only twice, one being at the six-reds World Championship. Not great. I expect Mark Williams to win by 6-3 or 6-4.

That’s for the first round. What about a winner? Ronnie goes for Ding; it’s a prediction he does with his heart I’m sure but I genuinely believe that Ding has a good chance. Actually, should they both win, he will face Judd Trump in the quarter finals, which is better than facing him in the final. I expect the winner of that QF to go and win the title. Other than those two, I think that Mark Selby and Neil Robertson are serious contenders.

 

Ronnie’s interview with Betway

Ronnie was interviewed by Betway, the 2019 UK Championship sponsor ahead of the competition. They shared this interview with David Caulfield, a prominent and well respected snooker blogger and David, very kindly, allowed me to reproduce his article on this blog.

Thank you David.

So here it is:

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Snooker’s Roger Federer

The Rocket reveals the secrets to becoming snooker’s most prolific major winner, and discusses being compared to Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

Roger Federer
O’Sullivan is bidding for a record 37th ranking title in York. Photo credit: World Snooker

Three decades and six dozen titles into his professional career, there will be one thing motivating Ronnie O’Sullivan when he pitches up at the York Barbican to defend the Betway UK Championship title.

“Coffee,” O’Sullivan says. “There are some lovely coffee bars up there, there are a couple of fantastic restaurants.”

O’Sullivan is smirking as he says this, but the inference is clear: simply turning up isn’t enough for him anymore. There has to be something more to get him going.

Take winning last year’s UK Championship, which he celebrated with far more gusto than usual, standing on the barriers surrounding the table and lifting the trophy aloft before pouring a bottle of water over his head.

“I was being riled up by the crowd,” says O’Sullivan, who is the second-favourite to defend his title in 2020.

“Obviously, it was an important match and sometimes your emotions overspill.

“I took quite a bit of stick during the game, which I thought was a bit uncalled for. It became more emotional for me than usual.

“I just thought: ‘Two fingers up to you. You’re going to have to watch me celebrate 19 major titles.’”

By winning his 19th Triple Crown event – five World Championships, seven UK Championships and a record seven Masters titles – O’Sullivan became the most prolific major winner in snooker history, beating Stephen Hendry’s tally of 18.

The record reaffirms what several people already believed, that O’Sullivan is the sport’s greatest ever player.

In a recent Instagram post, the Rocket declared breaking Hendry’s record as “one of my proudest moments as a snooker player…a huge achievement”, apparently discovering a level of satisfaction that generally eludes him.

“It’s the consistency,” O’Sullivan says. “Anything that relates to consistency is pretty cool, and it was done over a long period of time.

“I’ve won a lot of major tournaments with a lot of pressure involved. I think it’s got to be up there with one of the best achievements that anyone can achieve in any sport.”

Reaching the top of your game inevitably results in cross-sport comparisons.

Neil Robertson referred to O’Sullivan as the “Roger Federer of the snooker table, and probably even better than that” in March, a comment that O’Sullivan admitted he was flattered by.

“The best way to be able to judge how your career’s gone is by comparing it to others,” he says.

“I look at Federer and Tiger Woods going for their majors in tennis and golf. They have four majors a year, whereas we have three, but I’ve been going a bit longer, which I suppose makes my record not look so good. I haven’t done the maths.”

Those who have, however, will see that although O’Sullivan has been going longer, his record in majors stands up next to the CV of both Roger Federer and Tiger Woods.

The Rocket has triumphed in 25 per cent of the Triple Crown events he has competed in, winning 19 of 76. Federer pips that record, winning 25.6 per cent of his majors so far, while Woods has won 17.9 per cent of his.

O’Sullivan was comfortably the youngest major winner, too – winning the UK Championship at just 17 – whereas Federer and Woods were 22 and 21 respectively.

It’s not hard to see why he has kept pace with such phenomena. The sportspeople he admires most are perfectionists, obsessed with winning, and combine it ruthlessly with their genius talent.

Consequently, O’Sullivan has become more impatient with mediocrity.

“Because I’ve played sport, I look at lesser players in other sports and just see them as the equivalent of someone down the rankings in snooker,” he says.

“I just think: ‘I ain’t got time to watch people like that.’ I want to watch someone who’s doing the business.

“I wouldn’t watch tennis unless it’s Federer, Djokovic or Nadal. I wouldn’t watch football unless Messi’s playing and I wouldn’t watch golf unless it’s Tiger Woods. I switch over to something else.”

Where O’Sullivan doesn’t compare is prize money. His career earnings from snooker sit at £10.9m – a remarkable sum, but one that is dwarfed by Federer’s £103.5m and Woods’ £118.7m.

“Tennis, golf, F1 and football are global sports,” says O’Sullivan. “I’m not stupid, they look totally glamorous.

“Snooker’s appeal is not as great. I get it, but you make the best of what you can do.”

The emergence of Judd Trump as a serial winner should boost snooker’s profile, with O’Sullivan now facing a genuine rival in terms of winning trophies and doing so with panache.

Trump wrestled the Masters title off him last January, beating him in the final, before winning the World Championship in May.

But O’Sullivan says it is too early to judge whether Trump can challenge him for the crown of snooker’s GOAT.

“We’re best off having this conversation in ten years,” he says.

“To be an all-time great you’ve got to do it over 10 to 12 to 15 years. He’s had one good season, and great sportsmen do it for far longer than that.

“He’s a fantastic player and a fantastic talent, but talent will only take you so far. There are a few more ingredients involved.”

For all of his nonchalance, O’Sullivan thinks and speaks like a champion.

After 27 years of walking the walk, it is fair to say he belongs in the company of Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, and other all-time sporting legends when it comes to being one, too.

Ronnie was speaking with Betway ahead of the 2019 Betway UK Championship in York.

This is a nice interview, positive and rather well balanced.

If you don’t already, please follow David’s blog, SnookerHQ.

 

An interesting interview with Ronnie ahead of the 2019 English Open

Big thanks to Bernd Wütherish who pointed this interview to me! It’s very interesting indeed. I never heard about the total clearance podcasts before but, although my knowledge of the German language is very limited, I intend to try to follow their work.

here is the interview:

So Ronnie seems to be set to play at the UK Championship, which is good news.

I’m a bit surprised about his reluctance regarding the Masters. Usually he seemed to love this one because he had just to pitch and play. But it is true that over the years more and more “celebrities” came along , claiming frienship with him, to try and get (free) access to the tournament and the players room. It’s both a distraction and a burden. It’s sometimes difficult to say no.

He skilfully swerved the question about the World…

He also seems to be prepared to play some qualifiers, if needed, to go to Chinese events. That’s a change of mindset.

His criteria for “greatness” are quite “demanding” … and he names John Higgins amongst the greats although he doesn’t meet those criteria. 😉 But I agree with him, Judd Trump still has everything to prove, and Mark Selby’s dominance lasted four years and he was truly dominant during that period. However Neil Robertson has more ranking tittles than Mark Selby and nobody puts him in that “greatest” bracket. Whatever … it’s a pub debate, and comparing eras is always perilous and generally not meaningful.

And he wasn’t aware of the Home Series dress code… 😁

 

An interview with Luo Honghao about playing Ronnie, getting to the Crucible, untimely bout of allergy and more.

http://www.worldsnooker.com/luo-playing-osullivan-was-unforgettable/

Chinese ace Luo Honghao is looking forward to returning to Crawley for next week’s 19.com English Open, having reached the quarter-finals last year.

Luo, 19, enjoyed a promising debut season on the pro tour in 2018/19, highlighted by his fine run in Sussex as well as a first appearance at the Crucible.

At K2 Crawley he beat four players including Anthony McGill and Neil Robertson, then pushed Ronnie O’Sullivan hard in the quarter-finals. Luo led the Rocket 3-2 but eventually lost 5-3.

“My dream as a young child came true, to play against O’Sullivan at a venue,” said Luo. “There were so many spectators watching me play. It’s an unforgettable memory and I wish to experience more of the same.

“Ronnie is a nice person. We added each other on WeChat and talked a lot. I sent him clips of myself playing piano. What I need to learn from him is his perseverance and determination. He used to run 10km a day and practise for ten hours without touching his phone. You have to say ‘no’ to socialising and dedicate yourself to the game – I don’t think many players can really do that.”

Luo went on to qualify for the final stages of the World Championship in April. His Crucible experience was one to forget as he lost 10-0 to Shaun Murphy –  becoming only the second player to be whitewashed at the Sheffield venue – though there were mitigating circumstances.

“After the qualifiers finished, Lu Ning treated everyone a big sea food dinner and I had a lot,” Luo explained. “I wasn’t aware that I was allergic to some of the food, so I got a high fever that night. I wasn’t able to pot a ball the next day.

“I was hoping that Shaun Murphy wouldn’t be at his best so I could have some chances, but he made a lot of breaks. To lose 10-0 was a disaster but I can’t say I could have done better. You can’t give up because of one heavy defeat. Even players like Mark Selby have lost bad matches and they are so much better than me.”

Luo has made a strong start to his second pro season, notably reaching the quarter-finals of the Kasperksy Riga Maters, and is determined to improve the areas he perceives as his weaknesses.

“I don’t think there are problems with my technique, the issue is about psychology,” said the world number 69. “I often don’t start matches well. I find the first match in a tournament the most difficult one. And if I win the first frame in a match, I settle down immediately.

“By competing with the top players you learn fast, your technique and strategy will improve. I’d like to think my scoring is as good as most players but I need a stronger tactical game. The champions have a better mindset going into matches because they have experienced everything and there’s not much to prove, so they might be able to enjoy it a bit more. The results don’t bother me too much but I want to perform to my ability.”

An accomplished pianist, Luo is nicknamed The Virtuoso. “I love snooker and I love music too,” he added. “I once considered playing music professionally. If I could enjoy a successful snooker career, winning lots of titles, I might as well juggle it with a bit of music.”

Luo plays Sam Craigie in the first round of the 19.com English Open in Crawley. The event runs from October 14-20 and features kings of the baize including O’Sullivan, Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy. Tickets are still available and start at just £10 – for details click here. 

Lovely really, and once again showing a side of Ronnie that the ones who don’t like him choose to ignore. Very unfortunate for the young man what happened at the Crucible. He will be back, I’m sure.