Crucible 2019 – last interviews before it starts

The World Championship starts in a few hours and Shamoon Hafez (BBC) has been interviewing some if the main contenders.

World Championship 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan seeks sixth title at Crucible

It’s not great that Mark Williams is feeling this way, but I can understand why he does.

Indeed just have a look at the poster:

WC2019Poster

He’s completely in the background, whilst Mark Selby who has not done much at all this season in right in front. Mark Also wasn’t on the cover of the new game “Snooker 19” that Worldsnooker is promoting. That’s hard to understand unless Mark is indeed right.

In my opinion he’s been a great World Champion but that view may not be shared by everyone. There is a trend now to ask sportsperson to be “Mr/Mrs Perfect”. Well spending the whole year celebrating on social media with a lot of drinking involved, and getting in trouble in Dubai for being too explicitly flirty (with his own wife BTW) may not be what’s expected of Mr Perfect. But what Mark certainly has done, and I believe it’s much more important than being Mr Perfect, is being a champion to which the man and woman of the street can relate/identify. Because, we, real humans in real life, we are not “Perfect” and it’s hard to relate to an image that bears no “reality”.

 

Crucible 2019 – The Press Day

Traditionally the Friday before the World Championship is the Press Day. The top  16, the officials and the sponsor meet the members of the press.

Here are some images and videos that emerged today on social media

Meeting the press:

Ronnie remembers his best and worse Crucible moments with Eurosport

And he’s been talking to the sponsor…

As always, Ronnie sounds a bit low-key, but I honestly believe that this is part of trying to ease the weight of expectations a bit.

Meanwhile the fitters are getting the arena and practise room ready

Whilst Matt Huart has been working on a blog about the rankings (now there’s a surprise!)

Four to Fight for Season End Top Ranking

19th April 2019

Four players head to the Crucible from this Saturday looking not only to claim the Betfred World Snooker Championship title, but also to end the season as snooker’s world number one ranked player.

View the latest provisional end of season rankings

For the last seven successive seasons the honour has gone to three-time world champion Mark Selby, however having already been deposed as world number one by Ronnie O’Sullivan in recent weeks and with the prize money from his 2017 Crucible success due to fall from him ranking, there is a real possibility that this run will come to an end this year.

O’Sullivan favourite

Leading the race to finish the campaign ranked at number one for the first time since the end of the 2009/10 season is current top ranked player Ronnie O’Sullivan. The five-time world champion heads to Sheffield with a provisional total of £1,196,500 to his name, almost £200,000 clear of his closest rival.

Leading the chase is defending champion Mark Williams, who is the only player other than Ronnie whose prospects of claiming top spot remains in his own hands. This is because winning the tournament once again would guarantee that the Welshman would return to the top of the list, even if O’Sullivan were to reach the final.

Outside chance

The other two players who can still mathematically regain top spot are Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, however both would need some help by way of an early exit for O’Sullivan.

Both players would in fact need to win the tournament to stand any possible chance of leapfrogging the top two, with O’Sullivan also losing before the semi-final stage.

If O’Sullivan were to reach the last four, only Williams would be able to deny him a place at the top of the season-end rankings for what would be the sixth time in his career, while Williams is looking to finish there for a fifth time.

Also a £50000 prize has been announced for a 147 at the Crucible.

The prize for making a maximum break at the 2019 Betfred World Championship will be £50,000.

Snooker’s biggest tournament starts on Saturday and runs for 17 days, with 32 players battling for the title. And a 147 at the Crucible will be worth a £50,000 bonus.

Maximum breaks are usually rewarded from the rolling pot for 147s but with that pot down to £5,000 following Stuart Bingham’s maximum at the China Open, World Snooker and WPBSA have decided to boost the prize up to £50,000.

There is also a high break prize of £10,000.

147s at the Crucible

Cliff Thorburn 1983
Jimmy White 1992
Stephen Hendry 1995
Ronnie O’Sullivan 1997
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2003
Mark Williams 2005
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2008
Ali Carter 2008
Stephen Hendry 2009
Stephen Hendry 2012

147s this season

Michael Georgiou – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Jamie Jones – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – 2018 English Open
Ronnie O’Sullivan – 2018 English Open
Mark Selby – 2018 Champion of Champions
John Higgins – 2018 Scottish Open
Judd Trump – 2018 German Masters qualifiers
David Gilbert – 2019 Championship League
Neil Robertson – 2019 Welsh Open
Noppon Sanegkham – 2019 Welsh Open
Zhou Yuelong – 2019 Indian Open
Stuart Bingham – 2019 China Open

Yes, that’s 7 years ago. A maximum at the Crucible remains a rarity because a number of factors, notably the pressure because of the importance of the event and of course nobody will take unduly risks . With the big bonus gone, there wasn’t much incentive for the players to try to make one. They finally understood that it seems.

And everyone else has been doing previews. Here is mine.

Interview, pictures and plans…

Whilst others are getting ready for the last event before the Crucible, Ronnie has been busy cooking, planning a break and Crucible practice and, finally, acknowledging his own status in the sport.

Ronnie has shared those images on social media, hinting at a big announcement. If the tags accompanying the images are anything to go by, this is likely to be related to the imminent publication of his book with Rhiannon Lambert “Top of your game”.

According to “The Daily Star”, Ronnie’s plans ahead of the Crucible are to chill out with a mate, and go for a bit of fresh air and sailing, before heading to Sheffield for his preparation and practice ahead of the Crucible. Taking a break isn’t a bad idea IMO. The Tour Championship was pretty intense, the World Championship will be long and demanding. Being fresh heading to the Crucible might prove crucially important.

Meanwhile Eurosport has published this interview:

O’Sullivan: Hard to argue I’m not greatest of all time

By Eurosport

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted for the first time he has a right to be called snooker’s GOAT as his golden 27-year career continues to glitter.

O’Sullivan holds every major record in the sport in the modern era, but continues to be two adrift of the retired Stephen Hendry’s haul of seven world titles ahead of his latest tilt at a sixth world crown next month.

His achievements include:

  • Being the youngest winner of a ranking event aged 17 at the 1993 UK Championship
  • Winning a record 19 triple crown events including seven UK titles and seven Masters
  • Becoming the first man to break the 1000 mark in career centuries
  • Making 15 competitive 147 breaks, more than any other player

But the Essex man believes it is not only the numbers that validate his claim to be called snooker’s greatest of all time after his 13-11 win over 2010 world champion Neil Robertson in last weekend’s Tour Championship final.

At the age of 43, O’Sullivan is snooker’s oldest world number one since the 50-year-old six-times world champion Ray Reardon in 1983 after his title success in Llandudno.

He has drawn level on 36 ranking event titles with Hendry, a number that could be passed if he wins the World Championship.

The five-times world champion believes style, commitment and longevity since he turned professional in 1992 put him above his rivals in the debate about who is the green baize’s best.

When asked if he thought he was the greatest, O’Sullivan – winner of the world championship in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 – told Eurosport: “It’s hard to argue against that in many ways, my record speaks for itself. I have every record barring the seven world titles.

“I think the thing for me is that I’ve done it in an aggressive, attacking and flamboyant way if you like, and to get results playing that style is never easy.

“A lot of players aim to stall you, and freeze the game up, and it’s a testament to your own ability to not allow that to happen, and when I’m playing well that never happens because I’m able to punch holes through them really quickly and their game plan goes out the window. “

“If I’m not playing well and clearing up in one visit and dominating the table, their confidence grows and find that’s the best way to beat me.

“But over the 25 years, I’ve pretty much had an answer for any opponent. It’s nice, I can reflect on my career now and be satisfied with it in many ways.”
“Every season there seems to be someone that’s playing well, but I seem to have always been there. It’s Mark Selby, then Neil Robertson, Judd Trump then John Higgins, Mark Williams but I always seem to be always there, so I’m happy I’ve always been able to have consistency at the highest level.”

Robertson compared O’Sullivan to Roger Federer in tennis after losing to O’Sullivan after seeing him end Selby’s four-year reign as number one despite playing in only seven ranking events this season.

“It’s nice when it comes from your peers and they’re probably the most important ones. When it comes from someone like Neil or Stephen Hendry or John Higgins it means so much more,” said O’Sullivan.

“But you have to go by your records, and being the most successful player in snooker now, it’s debatable whether it’s me or Hendry. He’s had seven world titles, whereas I only have five, but I seem to have every other record. ”
“It’s a bit like saying is (Lionel) Messi really the best player ever because he hasn’t won the World Cup? You can go on and on with that argument.

“For me Messi is the greatest player we’ve ever seen. By not winning the World Cup doesn’t change my opinion of him being the best.

“It’s difficult to satisfy some people, but sometimes it’s just nice to have your hat thrown in and be at the table in that discussion.”

WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP ON EUROSPORT

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE

World Snooker Championship to be broadcast exclusively in 65 COUNTRIES and territories in Europe, Asia and North Africa (+UK non-exclusive)
Every minute of the main tournament broadcast exclusively LIVE* on Eurosport and Eurosport Player – equating to 150 HOURS of coverage
Exclusive coverage of the qualifying tournament on Eurosport Player – in total Eurosport will screen 300 HOURS of world-class snooker in April and May
WATCH ANYWHERE, ANYTIME – all coverage simulcast on the Eurosport Player
KEY DATES FOR THE DIARY

Qualification tournament – ONLY ON EUROSPORT PLAYER
Saturday 20 April – Day 1 of the main tournament from the 2019 World Snooker Championship
Saturday 27 April – Second round begins
Tuesday 30 April – Quarter-Finals begin
Thursday 2 May – Semi-Finals begin
Monday 6 May – The final of the 2019 World Snooker Championship concludes

Check the original article for pictures and videos.

Their views on Ronnie…

Following Ronnie’s victory in Preston, and his history making 1000th century, the Daily Mail  went to ask his friends how they see him. So here it is…

The remarkable Ronnie O’Sullivan reached the milestone of 1,000 century breaks with a thrilling 134 to retain the Players Championship in Preston on Sunday. In true O’Sullivan fashion, he even switched to left-handed to roll in the crucial red.

Next best in terms of tons is Stephen Hendry, who hit 775 during his illustrious career, proving that O’Sullivan, 43, is in a league of his own.

Sportsmail spoke to those who know him best to discover the secrets to his success…

Ronnie O'Sullivan became the first player to make 1,000 career century breaks on Sunday

 

RAY REARDON 

(Six-time world champion and coach in 2004)

I had a bit of a calming effect on him. When he couldn’t pot all the balls I showed him there was another side to the game. It was a small department that was missing — he didn’t like playing that way.

Over the past 20 years he’s been top notch but he’s a bit better now. He’s got more systems within the system. He sees the game better than anybody, much better than I saw it. The balls open up and he’s so clever and in control of the cue ball. He’s a bit of a genius.

He’s the best player I’ve ever seen, when he’s there. Sometimes he’s there in person but his mind’s not on the game, but that’s Ronnie. The main thing is he’s happy. If you’re happy you can play better.

Former coach Ray Reardon says O'Sullivan is the best snooker player that he's ever seen

Former coach Ray Reardon says O’Sullivan is the best snooker player that he’s ever seen

 

PROFESSOR STEVE PETERS

(Consultant psychiatrist)

Ronnie came to me eight years ago and we instantly formed a rapport. My job is to help people help themselves. It’s easy when you get someone like Ronnie as he’s so keen.

He’s worked very hard on the mental skills and continues to do so. It’s no different to the physical — it’s about keeping psychologically fit. Our emotions are usually the beliefs we hold. We make sure these are solid beliefs which are constructive.

We stay in touch regularly and he’s doing so well. I think what he’s developed in his own mind is that he’s absolutely driven and determined, but he’s more driven than he was. He’s learnt to gain perspective on things and not be as harsh on himself. We’re hoping he’ll play until he’s 50. That’s our aim.

The 43-year-old has worked very hard on the mental side of the game and continues to do so

DAMIEN HIRST 

(Artist and friend)

I was a Ronnie fan and when I met him six years ago we became mates. I guess I keep him calm.

I get to as many tournaments as I can and he comes to my Hammersmith studio to help me finish paintings. I give him a colour and say: ‘Put some here’. He’s my assistant.

Ronnie’s insane. I remember a first-to-nine against John Higgins. He was 8-3 down but said: ‘He twitched, I think I’ve got him’. He lost 9-8 but it was mad — what on earth gives you that feeling?

That’s why he’s exciting — because he’s instinctive. In art I aspire to that, but pain comes with it — he plays brilliantly or terribly and that’s the pain of genius. He wants to entertain. He often says: ‘I’d rather lose and play well than win and play s***.’

Ronnie’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit. He has to be top of the game or he won’t be interested. He’s doing a good job selecting when he wants to play and because he’s winning he’s getting the ranking points, but not doing the leg work that everyone else is. He’s happier than I’ve ever seen him. I just want him to be happy.

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend's biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

Artist Damien Hirst says that his old friend’s biggest fear is not knowing when to quit

 

STEPHEN FEENEY 

(Inventor of SightRight coaching)

We started working together this season. He wasn’t enjoying playing and I did a test that showed him he wasn’t sighting a straight line.

In practice we do around 12 long shots with his eyes shut. When I link him in on the correct line all he has to do is pull the trigger.

He’s incredibly focused, a perfectionist. He beats himself up but he’s learning to accept that he can’t do everything.

If we can help him become even greater and his long game becomes the best in the world, there’s a big problem for other players.

It’s a work in progress but if you saw him in practice you would go: ‘Wow!’ We’re so close, it’s exciting. Can he go for another five years? Without doubt — and that’s what he wants.

SightRight inventor Stephen Feeney has no doubt O'Sullivan can keep going for five years

RHIANNON LAMBERT 

(Registered nutritionist)

I started working with Ronnie in September 2017. His mood wasn’t great, he said he was struggling to get motivated and had lost his love for the game.

He couldn’t concentrate, had leg injuries from over-training and was gaining weight due to a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet.

I stripped back his running and reintroduced carbohydrates for concentration and muscle recovery, and he lost two stones quickly. We cut down his portions, especially healthy fats — he ate three avocados a day.

He’s got a healthy routine now — porridge in the morning, snacks when he’s training and healthy alternatives for dinner. He is so organised, making up batches of spices and freezing them for curries he loves cooking with his kids. I’m so proud of him.

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert is proud of the snooker star for sticking to his healthy routine

 

STEPHEN HENDRY 

(Seven-time world champion)

I know what he’s thinking two or three shots in advance — it’s a snooker brain.

When he’s making a century break you look at the balls and see when he’s going to split the reds. It makes commentary very easy!

He’s become more of a percentage player. I hate that term because it doesn’t fit Ronnie.

He’s still aggressive, but because he’s so good he doesn’t need to take risks anymore.

He can wait it out and tie his opponent in knots, then he gets in and the frame’s over. When he’s on form it’s almost perfect snooker.

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O'Sullivan's game is almost perfect when on form

Former rival Stephen Hendry thinks O’Sullivan’s game is almost perfect when on form

 

JIMMY WHITE 

(Friend and fellow Eurosport expert)

Occasionally you get sports people come along who have that something special — like Seve Ballesteros and Sugar Ray Leonard — and create that buzz when they play. Ronnie is one of those geniuses.

He’s threatened to quit but I think that is because he’s not a good traveller. He knows sometimes he has to go to China or wherever for ranking points and when he’s focused, no one has ever been more dedicated than Ronnie.

When he does the punditry in the Eurosport studio everybody listens to him, especially the players — Neil Robertson records it.

They want to hear his insight because he’s got such a different outlook on the game. That’s why he took it to a new level. His passion for it is second to none.

Jimmy White says O'Sullivan's passion for the game of snooker is second to none

Jimmy White says O’Sullivan’s passion for the game of snooker is second to none

 

BARRY HEARN 

(Chairman of World Snooker)

I have known Ronnie since he was 12 and I hope that I am his friend. He’s as mad as a hatter but geniuses often are.

He causes me a few problems but I wish I had six players like him. He’s still my favourite and I’d put him above Davis, Hendry and Higgins. It’s that genius that gives him the inconsistency. He’s a one-off.

Sport needs personalities and Ronnie breaks all the rules — right-handed or left-handed, a five-and-a-half-minute 147. There’s never been anyone like him.

As much as I like to be in control you have to change your thinking with O’Sullivan because of what he brings to the table.

Quite often we will disagree. But Ronnie knows that I’m the best in the world at what I do and I am absolutely convinced that he’s the best in the world at what he does. So we have a marriage which may not be made in heaven, but it’s pretty damn close.

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O'Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn says O’Sullivan is still his favourite player in the game

Enjoy!

 

Ronnie pays tribute to Andy Murray

After Andy Murray’s defeat at the Australian Open, after showing tremendous heart and determination on the court, many sportspersons reacted, showing admiration and support.

Ronnie was one of them

And this reported by BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan praises Andy Murray after retirement plans

Amazing though how they always seem to find something negative to put forward … the first sentence isn’t about Ronnie’s praise of Andy Murray, it’s about him being “lazy”!

Well, personally, I think Ronnie was genuine in his praise, and Andy Murray deserves only respect and admiration for what he did on and off the court. I wish him the best, first and foremost to be able to enjoy his life without pain nor unbearable limitations.

As for Ronnie, he may indeed not be as ruthless as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry were, but to me, it’s precisely because he’s a bit softer on himself that he is still competing at the highest level at 43 (and counting). Anyone who ever did endurance sports – hiking over several days for instance – will know that managing your efforts and resting your body and mind at the right times is key to achieving the goal eventually.

Ronnie: an interview and revisiting the Masters

The Masters 2019 is upon us, it starts on Sunday, and inevitably Ronnie is in the news. He’s won this tournament a record  seven times, over the last fifteen years, he’s made it to 9 finals, in fourteen participation and won it six times. So it’s no wonder that the press will want to speak to him in the build-up.

And now of course, having won the UK championship for the seventh time before Christmas, bringing his number of “Triple Crowns” to nineteen and having superseded Stephen Hendry’s tally in the process, he’s largely recognised as the greatest.

So here is an interview with de Daily Mail

‘I don’t think any player has ever got the better of me’: Ronnie O’Sullivan on being the best in the world, why he can play until he is 55, and his next trick

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan has had ‘no better feeling’ than being at the top of his game
  • The five-time world champion tells Sportsmail why he is so consistent
  • He has considered taking up hobbies including go-karting and Nordic skiing  
  • O’Sullivan will play Stuart Bingham in the first round of the Masters on Monday 

Ronnie O’Sullivan is usually his own harshest critic. But the tortured king of snooker seems less tormented nowadays, with the pursuit of perfection not as painful as it was.

It is refreshing to hear O’Sullivan, 43, who is normally quicker to praise his contemporaries, speak about those moments when he is at the top of his game.

‘It’s fantastic! There is no better feeling,’ he says. ‘I feel like I have an answer for anything that my opponent might bring to the table — whether that’s good safety, or good break-building, or good potting.

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

 

O'Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

O’Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

‘I just know that they have to continue doing what they’re good at to a very high level for a very long time to have a chance to beat me. And they might beat me. But I’ll be coming for you the next week.

‘And I’ll be coming for you the week after. So keep bringing your A game. At the end of their career most players will say, “Well, I didn’t really get the better of Ronnie”. And that’s all you can do as a sportsman.’

At 17, O’Sullivan saw off Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship, thanks to sublime talent and an infectious personality, and has dominated snooker for more than 25 years.

‘I’ve had to play different eras and players. Some players will come along for five years and everyone will be saying, “Oh they’re going to be great”. And then I’ll have to deal with them.

‘And then it will be another batch and then I’d have five years of them. And then another batch of players. Because they can’t sustain it. They can’t sustain it for 25 years.

‘I don’t think there’s any pro who has ever played in my era who can honestly say that they got the better of me, really,’ he says nonchalantly between sips of lemon and ginger tea.

So how has he done it? ‘You have to reinvent yourself sometimes,’ he continues. ‘You have to look round and say, “There are players out there doing stuff better than I am”. I want to try to get that into my game.’

O'Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

O’Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

 

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

O’Sullivan, who watched and learned as heroes such as Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Hendry became opponents, had a close eye on Mark Williams last year. Aged 43, the Welshman won his third World Championship in May, 15 years after his last Crucible victory.

Williams credited Steve Feeney’s SightRight stable with advances in his game and this was not lost on O’Sullivan, who joined the programme in July.

‘I noticed Mark had got more compact and that was a consequence of changing his alignment,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘I was always interested in someone who can compact everything that they can do. When I’m playing my best I feel compact and tight so I thought I would give it a go.

‘I knew I needed to do something. I didn’t want to carry on playing as I was last season.

‘It was like learning a new language. He gave me solidness, if you like. I’m not a better player. I don’t believe you can improve as a player. I think once you get to 21, 22 you’re as good as you’re ever going to be.

‘I’m just a different type of player. More consistent, if you like. Probably won’t have as many moments of brilliance because I won’t need to. I’ll just be solid — which is OK for me.’

O'Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

O’Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

 

O'Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan credits Ray Reardon with improving his safety game, and his union with psychiatrist Steve Peters helped challenge his mental demons. Away from the table, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert changed his attitude to food, and artist Damien Hirst is a regular in his dressing room.

‘I’m lucky, I’ve got some good friends,’ he says. ‘And some great people who have become friends. My friends are people who want nothing from me — even with Steve Peters.

‘He wants nothing from me other than to see me do well. I kind of gravitate to those people and keep them in my life. I’m lucky to have them around.’

O'Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career 
O’Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career

 

O'Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December 

O’Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December

The wild nights out are long gone in favour of quiet nights in. O’Sullivan, who has written three fiction books and has his own cookery book published in May, is reading about Genghis Khan and is a Netflix aficionado.

He still runs (‘I can do a Parkrun — three miles — in about 20 minutes, which is all right, though it ain’t great.’)

But O’Sullivan, nimble of body and inquisitive of mind, is looking for new pastimes.

‘I’m going to go into karting,’ he says. ‘I’ve got my first testing after the Masters. They do four five-hour races. Three drivers.

‘You do the pole position — all that sort of thing. You start at eight in the morning and finish at five at night. So I thought, yeah that’ll do me. Once a month, something like that.

‘I want to start Nordic skiing as well. Cross-country skiing. I’ve always fancied that because it’s like running. I’ve got that running background. It doesn’t look like there’s much skill involved. I’m always looking for something to do.’

The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing 
The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing

 

He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner
He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner

O’Sullivan won the UK Championship last month, becoming the first player to win 19 Triple Crown events, overtaking Hendry in the process.

With the Masters — a tournament he has won seven times with three victories in the past five years — starting on Sunday, O’Sullivan faces 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round on Monday. How has he been preparing?

‘I don’t actually prepare for one tournament in a certain way. I just kind of play,’ he says.

‘I’m a bit like a boxer who is fit all year round. I wouldn’t be like a Ricky Hatton where I finish a fight and then don’t go near a gym for two months. I’d be back in the gym, training. That’s how I live my life as a snooker player.’

As his career progresses, O'Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

As his career progresses, O’Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

 

O'Sullivan's first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham 

O’Sullivan’s first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham

O’Sullivan will be analysing his competitors for Eurosport during the competition. He provides sharp insight and has learned a thing or two.

‘I’ve had to commentate on nine frames in a match,’ he says. ‘Wow! So you get to see a different game when you’re commentating from when you’re playing.’

And although he believes that his form over the past six or seven years has been something near his best, how long can he go on?

‘Whatever sport or business you’re in, you’re always looking around at your competitors,’ he says. ‘Is anyone doing anything better than you and can you learn from them? I don’t really see anybody tearing it up, really.

‘It’s kind of giving me a little more belief that I can play a bit longer than I thought I could. I think 50 would be the minimum. Competing and still winning tournaments.

‘Unless some really good players come up through the ranks, I could maybe go on until 55. So who knows? I’m never satisfied, I just want to be as good as I can be, if that makes sense.’

Ronnie has also been on twitter, yesterday and the day before for the first time this year. He’s considering doing some podcasts and pointed his fans to this video by Eurosport UK, recollecting some of his most remarkable moments at the Masters.

Looking forward to kicking off 2019 at the Masters next week 😃