And a final Interview whith Ronnie before it starts …

This one in the Yorkshire Post

No Crucible drama for O’Sullivan in pursuit of Yorkshire hat-trick

RICHARD HERCOCK

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s mood was as bright as the sunshine which bathed Sheffield yesterday on the eve of the Betfred World Championship. As the sport’s top players gathered for snooker’s media day, including defending champion Mark Selby, all eyes were on five-time winner O’Sullivan.

ROS Crucible 2018
Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The last of those Crucible titles may have come in 2013, but that five-year stretch has not hoodwinked bookies, and tournament sponsors, Betfred who make him 5-2 favourite to emerge as champion in 17 days time. And with good reason. Victory in Sheffield would complete an amazing Yorkshire hat-trick, after winning the UK Championship in York, and the English Open in Barnsley earlier this season. Throw in other ranking tournament wins at the Shanghai Masters, World Grand Prix and the Players Championship, and it’s clear the 42-year-old is the man to beat at the Crucible. “I like it up this end of the world,” O’Sullivan told The Yorkshire Post. “I spend a lot of time in Sheffield, it’s a great place.

ROS Crucible 2018Ronnie O’Sullivan at the 2018 Betfred World Snooker Championship Media Launch at The Crucible, Sheffield. Picture Tony Johnson.

“It’s good to be here. Statistically it’s been a good year, could have played better. “But there’s still quite a bit of silverware in the cabinet so I am not going to start complaining,” added O’Sullivan, who could become the first player to win £1m prize money on a single season with another Crucible title.

Not that O’Sullivan is thinking about the financial rewards. “(Reaching £1m) would mean something if I played for money, but I don’t play snooker for money,” he said. “That’s not something that enters my head, but I am aware that you all talk about it.

ROS Lunch Crucible 2018Ronnie O’Sullivan eats his lunch.

“I don’t look at records, I just try to enjoy myself.

“I am enjoying what I do in my life, playing snooker when I can, and this is just a two-week holiday in Sheffield for me hopefully.

“If it isn’t, I will just go back and do some stuff with Eurosport, bit of commentary. I am in a win-win situation. “A Chinese proverb says you have two lives, zero to 40, and 40-80. I am in that second part of my life now. “Two or three years ago I thought it was important to plan what I was going to do away from snooker. “I am just trying to hang in there and get a few results to keep me going. “I have won the world title five times and it’s a great feeling.

“But it’s probably not as good a feeling as you think it is. It sinks in a week later. But for me, I get detached a little bit, and have a bit of fun really.”

O’Sullivan opens up in Sheffield today against Scotsman Stephen Maguire, 37, in a tough first-round encounter. The Crucible format, stretched over 17 days, is a sporting marathon, which even keen runner O’Sullivan struggles to enjoy.

“I don’t have to get myself up for it,” he said. “Seventeen days is a long time, it’s just another tournament. “Someone like me, I prefer a five-day or seven-day tournament. That probably suits my personality a little bit better.

“If you start asking Usain Bolt would he like to run the 10km, he probably wouldn’t fancy the training. It’s a bit long for him. “But Mo Farah would love it. It’s different strokes for different folks. “I just need to come here and make it as relaxed as possible, but I much prefer shorter tournaments.”

O’Sullivan stands two short of Stephen Hendry’s record haul of seven world titles. But former world No 2 Maguire – now ranked 18th in the world – is an awkward first-round opponent, having come through this week’s qualifiers to reach the Crucible. O’Sullivan said: “I don’t care who I play, if you want to win it you have to play well. If you don’t play well, you are going out. There’s no need to complicate it. “He is a fantastic player and the sort of player you wouldn’t want to draw in the first round. But I have drawn him, and have to get on with it. “I don’t really analyse it, it all comes instinctively. I don’t know how I am going to prepare, what I will be thinking, just get on with it, play the game, and let it unravel.”

Being interviewed in the bar of the Crucible – the famous Sheffield theatre which is no stranger to drama over the years – O’Sullivan cuts a relaxed figure. So long snooker’s poster boy, and box-office hit, the Essex potter has found a good balance between work and life off the table. “As you get older, you get a little bit wiser,” he explained. “I feel pretty good, happy with how my career is going, what I am doing. “The last two or three years have been really good. “I am quite a selfish person really. The family fit in with what I am doing, I am away working a lot. I pay the bills, so they understand that.” “I just go out, do my work and enjoy myself. When I am home they see me, when I am not, they speak to me on Facetime.”

O’Sullivan is closing in on another Hendry record, he has 33 ranking title wins, compared to the Scot’s 36. Not that the six-times UK champion and seven-times Masters winner likes to compare himself with players from previous generations. “It’s really hard to compare, because it depends what era you do it,” he said. “It’s okay winning tournaments when the field is a bit weak, but to compare records is pretty difficult. “Look at Federer, who did it when players like Nadal and Djokovic were around. That makes it even more impressive. “I am not sure how to measure myself against Stephen Hendry, as long as I keep getting a buzz from snooker I will keep doing it.”

And Ronnie took time to meet the Thai fans who came to support their player, Theppy! One is young Nutcharuk. They shared this on social media…

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Good luck Ronnie!

World Championship 2018 – Ronnie’s previews and goals

This interview, probably originally done for Eurosport, has been published in several media, here is one

O’Sullivan playing down chances of Crucible record as World Championship bid begins

Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t normally turn down a challenge – he’s a man more accustomed to scaling the heights of every obstacle he comes across.

Yet Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world snooker titles is one mountain even the Rocket claims he won’t set himself the task of climbing.

On paper, O’Sullivan isn’t that far away from matching Hendry – five world titles to his name already and arguably in the form of his life as he prepares to head to the Crucible for the 26th time next week.

Statistically speaking, the 42-year-old has had the best season of his career. In fact, statistically speaking, no snooker player has ever had a better campaign – O’Sullivan’s five ranking event titles to date equals the single-season record.

He’s the bookies’ favourite heading into the 2018 Betfred World Championship – where he opens up against world No.18 Stephen Maguire on Saturday – and anything other than lifting the trophy aloft two weeks on Monday, for the first time since 2013, would be viewed as a disappointment.

However, O’Sullivan freely admits the 17-day marathon in Sheffield doesn’t particularly suit him – “some people might enjoy that sort of slog style but it’s not my favourite tournament because obviously it goes on a bit too long,” he says – and his numerous interests outside snooker mean he could well retire before having too many more shots at Hendry’s magnificent seven.

Instead, the world No.2 has other goals he still wants to accomplish on the baize.

“I’m motivated by stuff that I think is achievable,” explains O’Sullivan. “Breaking the 36 ranking events that Stephen Hendry holds [O’Sullivan currently has 33] is something that is achievable, so that is one of my goals.

“A thousand centuries is definitely something I will do at some point [he has currently made 937], as long as I don’t have a fatal accident that prevents me from playing!

“That’s something that’s definitely on my radar and obviously the 18 major titles [World Championship, UK Championship and Masters crowns] that me and Hendry both jointly hold is something that I’m in a position to move on and beat. They’re three goals that I’d like to tick off.

“Seven world titles is probably a mountain I wouldn’t want to set myself to climb because I don’t know when I’m going to stop playing.

“I haven’t set a date, but while things are still going pretty well I’ll keep playing. It’s probably the best results I’ve had this season, although my form has probably been better.

“That’s kind of weird to say – how do you have your best season and yet you feel like your form has not been as good as it has been in previous seasons where you’ve maybe not won as much?

“It just goes to show that sport can be pretty unpredictable and you just have to suck it up sometimes and see what you get at the end of it.”

Ealing Times: Ronnie O'Sullivan

The days of the mid-noughties and early 2010s that saw O’Sullivan threatening to quit snooker on a seemingly annual basis and taking a year off from the sport at a time are firmly behind him – thanks in no small part to working with renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters since 2011.

But he has also found plenty of other interests to keep him balanced – he’s a successful snooker pundit on Eurosport, a published crime author and has filmed a documentary called American Hustle for the History Channel, where he explores America’s history with the game of pool.

Another pre-Crucible interview with Ronnie

This time in the Daily Mail

Ronnie O’Sullivan is winning so many snooker tournaments, he has started rating them on how much fun he had: ‘A sad face means that it was s***’

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan heads to the Crucible with five 2018 rankings titles to his name
  • But the renowned perfectionist is far from content with his form around the table
  • He’s come up with a way to remind himself he can still win when he plays badly 
  • O’Sullivan uses emojis to rank his  victories, happy for good and sad for ‘s***’  

Ronnie O’Sullivan reclines on a sofa. In terms of results he is in form, winning five ranking events this season to bring his tally to 33, three behind record-holder Stephen Hendry.

But — and this may not come as a surprise — the renowned perfectionist is far from content with his snooker.

‘I’ve written a thing on my phone after each tournament. If it was a good tournament I put a smiley face,’ he says.

Ronnie O'Sullivan heads to the Crucible in Sheffield with five 2018 titles to his name

 Ronnie O’Sullivan heads to the Crucible in Sheffield with five 2018 titles to his name

 

‘If it’s just a plain face it means it was all right, and a sad face means that it was s*** and I didn’t enjoy it. At all,’ he emphasises.
‘Two of my victories have got smiley faces and three have got a sad face because I didn’t actually feel like I performed well or enjoyed it. But I still got the result.

‘It’s a reminder that I can still play badly and win. I’m not going to let my perfectionism stop me.

‘But at the end of the day it still is about winning and losing. I can’t get away from the fact that there are three sad faces in there that have won tournaments.’

The World Championship begins on Saturday and O’Sullivan’s preparations are underway. He is in a snooker hall in the middle of an industrial estate on the outskirts of Romford, not far from his home.

On the first floor of an anonymous brick building is a spartan room with five snooker tables under fluorescent lights. In a corner lurks a sink, kettle and microwave.

Owned by his former manager Django Fung, O’Sullivan is free to practise here at will. Its anonymity and lack of distractions are ideal. But O’Sullivan still struggles.

‘If I had to graft to win them tournaments, I wouldn’t be sitting here now feeling fresh and relaxed,’ he says. ‘The way I have to do it has to come instinctively.

‘To me the snooker part is the easy part. The hard part is getting me to practise. And getting me in the right frame of mind. Once I work on that, then I’m excited to be at the tournament and playing.’

Yet the five-time world champion is taking his snooker as lightly as he ever has done

 

O’Sullivan is waiting for his friend Judd Trump. But until he arrives, Ronnie has things on his mind.

‘Really, snooker is something I do because I want to do it, not because I have to do it. I’ve got snooker just where I want it right now,’ he says.

In between sips of herbal tea, the five-time world champion talks about his passions away from a game which has dominated his life since he was eight.

‘Anything where there is no pressure is fun. Come the tournaments, that’s a different ball game. Every time I put myself on the line I’m there to be criticised if you play badly; if you play good they think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

‘There’s a working life outside of snooker whereas before I thought, “What else am I going to do?” I could never visualise what my life would be like without snooker.’

Now an author, TV personality, snooker pundit for Eurosport and self-confessed foodie, O’Sullivan’s enthusiasm is infectious.

Take his opinion on Flappy Bird, a mobile phone game which he credits with curing his fear of flying. ‘I absolutely love it. It’s the only thing that gets me on the plane. If I get a bit of turbulence and I’m able to get through it without picking up Flappy Bird.

Reclined on the sofa, O'Sullivan talks to Sportsmail about how he ranks his tournament wins

 

‘But if it gets that bad, then I just pick up the game and I play it and the turbulence goes after a minute or two. And I’m all right.’

He’s also fallen in love with snooker again.

‘I love the punditry,’ he says. ‘It’s one of the best things I do now. I never used to watch snooker but I was forced to watch it because of work. And me and Jimmy [White] and Neal [Foulds] would be watching the game and talking about it.

‘You get so involved in it. You’ve got the one that you want to win it because you’ve followed it through. You think, “I’d love to see him win it because of the journey”.

‘But when you’re playing in it or you’re dipping in and out of it you don’t really know if they’ve had a hard match or what they’ve been through during the tournament.

‘You follow it from start to finish and you get so into it. It’s important just to talk and see the game. And give the viewer an insight of what’s going on and how he’s thinking.

‘You’re just telling it through your eyes really. It would be interesting for me to hear another sportsman that was playing, say Tiger Woods commentating on golf, I’d love to hear how he would be assessing it.’

O’Sullivan heads to Sheffield this week searching for an elusive sixth world title that would bring him alongside Steve Davis and his former coach Ray Reardon. Hendry has seven, a tally O’Sullivan thinks is out of his grasp.

‘I never get to tournaments and think, “I need to meditate and do my practise”. I used to, but now I can’t be bothered. It’s like a roll of a dice for me. Take my chances.’

But Sheffield is a special place.

‘I stay in a hotel right by the river. But I’ve got a houseboat there as well. So I cook on my houseboat, and I sit and chill and watch my TV. I just use the hotel to sleep in and there’s all my clobber there.

I’ve got that safety blanket that if Sheffield’s not going too well you’re either better off going out early, first round, second round, and then enjoying your punditry and getting home and having a few days at home. Or win it. No in between.’

O’Sullivan’s natural talent has been chiselled by two mentors.

He coupled with Reardon in 2003 for two years and he has worked with sports psychologist Steve Peters since 2012.

‘Ray and Steve are the two best things that have happened to me in my career,’ O’Sullivan says.

‘Ray taught me stuff on a snooker table which I will never forget, he made me into the all-round player.

‘Steve Peters has helped me not sabotage my own chances. Whereas before I’d get into a match and think, “I don’t feel like this today, I’m going to have an early bath,” now I give everything I can.

‘I always believe my best game is good enough to beat anybody else’s.’

If he manages to take that to the Crucible, perhaps another smiley face will appear on his phone.

Ronnie’s interview with Eurosport ahead of the World Championship

Ronnie speaks to Eurosport ahead of the World Championship

Ronnie O’Sullivan: I can win sixth world title, but Mark Selby is favourite

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes his main threat to lifting a sixth world title is old foe and defending champion Mark Selby, who will chase an incredible fourth success in five years at the Crucible.

Since denying O’Sullivan the chance to win his sixth world title in 2014 with an 18-14 win in Sheffield, O’Sullivan has never been back to the final while Selby has progressed to win twice more at the game’s blue-chip event with victories over Ding Junhui (18-14) and John Higgins (18-15) over the past two years.

Leicester’s Selby enters the event having lifted the China Open with a 11-3 win over Barry Hawkins in Beijing last Sunday. He starts the tournament a week on Saturday as the game’s undisputed number one.

But world number two O’Sullivan is enjoying the best season of his career having won five titles and made 70 century breaks. He is number one in the world on the one-year list, and will become the first man to surpass £1m in prize money in a season if he can win the £425,000 winner’s cheque.

There is the tantalising prospect of a best-of-35 frames final between the game’s two top players on May 7.

“Of course I can win, I’m one of 10 players who can win it,” said O’Sullivan.

“But like I said, until the tournament starts. Until you get into it, you never really quite know what’s going to happen. The first round is a difficult one because it’s the first one. But once you get going and you get in your stride anything is possible.

“I think Mark Selby is obviously (the favourite). He’s won it three times out of the last four. Great match player. If he gets it right every player in the tournament knows he’s a proper handful. And obviously Judd Trump as well. If he gets it right he’s a handful for anybody. “

“He’s a very different player to Selby and John Higgins. I love watching John Higgins, he’s the ultimate player. And I love watching Judd Trump play because he plays snooker in a way nobody else plays.

O’Sullivan feels Higgins, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Mark Williams are also worth watching in the endurance race of this year’s 17-day event in Sheffield.

“I think obviously Selby, John Higgins, I think Mark Williams is playing very well,” said O’Sullivan. “Ding Junhui has had some good results there the last few years. But like you say, snooker is so wide open today.

“There are so many players capable of winning tournaments. It could be anyone of seven, eight or ten people who could win this year’s WC. It’s just another tournament that happens to be the WC. So there are no guarantees of who could be picking up that trophy.”

At the age of 42, O’Sullivan would be the oldest champion since Welsh icon Ray Reardon lifted the world title at the age of 45 in 1978.

A victory for the sport’s biggest name would be hugely popular, and would see him equal Steve Davis’ and Reardon’s haul of six. It would leave him one behind Stephen Hendry’s modern record of seven.

O’Sullivan feels he is fit enough to last the pace after a season that has seen him win the UK title, Shanghai Masters, English Open, World Grand Prix and Players Championship.

“There’s load in the tank. I haven’t exerted much at all, obviously other than having to go through winning tournaments,” said O’Sullivan.

“That’s the easy part I think, the in between part, I don’t do too much practice. I do enough just to get me on the starting line and I spend a lot of time with my family and my friends.

“I’m really enjoying life you know. I feel like I have a really good balance. For me, if something gets a bit too hard then it’s not for me.

“So like I said, there’s been two or three times throughout the season where I knew I had played too much and I knew losing early in the tournament was the best thing that could happen to me. You lose early, have a few days off, recover for the next tournament. “

“Trying to go deep in every tournament you’re just going to leave yourself feeling shattered. I think at this stage of my career, you want to preserve yourself as much as you can.”

 

Follow the link above to watch the videos.
And about enjoying life Ronnie shared this yesterday…

Trump – Judd not Donald – gives his opinion on Ronnie …

Worldsnooker has published this interview with Judd Trump 

Judd Trump believes Ronnie’s O’Sullivan’s remaining goals in snooker are to break all of the major records he doesn’t currently own.

O’Sullivan has had one of the best seasons of his career, winning five ranking titles, earning £824,500 and making 70 centuries.

He already holds the records for most career centuries (944), most 147s (14) and is tied with Stephen Hendry on 18 Triple Crown titles. However O’Sullivan still lags two behind behind Hendry’s record of seven World Championship crowns, and three behind the Scot’s mark of 36 ranking titles.

Chigwell’s 42-year-old O’Sullivan has repeatedly insisted that he is not motivated by eclipsing Hendry. But world number three Trump is convinced that the Rocket is determined to achieve more.

“Ronnie wants to break every record and over the next three or four years I think he’s likely to get them, the way he is playing,” said Trump. “He’s getting a bit older and he wants to target those records and beat them before he retires. He says he’s not really bothered, but I think that’s the only aim he has left in snooker. If he does get to seven or eight world titles, that will be enough for him.”

Trump, who lost 6-5 when the pair met in the semi-finals of the Players Championship last month, feels that O’Sullivan will be hard to stop in this year’s Betfred World Championship, which runs from April 21 to May 7 in Sheffield.

He added: “Ronnie has been on a different level to anyone else this season. A lot of players have collapsed against him. With the way he’s playing, the confidence he has and the mood he is in, he will be massive favourite at the Crucible, even more so than any other year.

“There is an aura around Ronnie which means that only a few players can beat him. He is keeping himself fit and not a lot of other players are doing that so it’s a way for him to get one up on the rest of them. He knows he is the most talented player and if he works hard he’ll put himself in a good position.

“He’ll need to have his head right because if he comes up against one of the slow players and goes behind he’ll need to stick with it. If you come up against him you have to hope to catch him on a bad day.”

Hum…

Obviously you don’t become a great champion unless you are very competitive, and Ronnie is a great champion. However it takes a great deal of bravery … or naIvety … to claim to understand what Ronnie thinks and wants . Himself doesn’t always know from one day to the other!

It’s this time of the season again, and we will see mind games everywhere. Last year Judd Trump came at the Crucible claiming that “this was going to be his year”, only to collapse to Rory McLeod  in the first round. So, maybe, it’s good tactic this time to keep the focus and put the pressure on someone else.

Now, of course, I would be delighted if Ronnie did beat all those records before he retires, but it’s not that important.

Some interesting quotes by Ronnie about John Higgins

Ahead of his match against John Higgins tonight, Ronnie explained what he thinks about John Higgins and their rivalry. I think it’s a fair assessment of their relationship and the influence they had on each other.

As for the match, tonight, it’s hard to make a prediction. It will be very much about who is in the best form on the day.

Here are his quotes, reported by Jack Wilson, in the Express (excerpts)

“It’s like a rivalry, me and John. From junior, amateurs, professionals, we’ve kind of come through the ranks together. We’ve pushed each other on to be successful.

“If I did well, that inspired John to do well and vice versa.

“He’s a fantastic player and you know going into that match, you probably have to play near your best to win unless John doesn’t perform.

“If he’s on, he’s very very good all-round.”

“John wasn’t any different as a youngster. The first time you saw him at 14, 15, it was like ‘this geezer is unbelievable.

“He had everything. I remember we played the Home Internationals and no-one had seen John until he was about 15.

“It was always me, Steve Lee and Mark Williams. I remember Steve Lee come back and say ‘have you seen this John Higgins play, around the black, he punches them in’.

“I was like ‘okay’ then I watched him and he was really good. We were like this from 13 or 14.”

Nigel Slater reports on an interview with Barry Hearn on the BBC

You can read the full article here

This is an excerpt:

….

But speaking in a recent interview with the BBC, Hearn said O’Sullivan should think wisely before deciding to pull out of the 17-day event.

“Listen, we have a system that’s very clear to everybody – no player is forced to play in an event. The player’s contract is democratic – you can play if you want and if you don’t (want to) then don’t play.

“It’s his (O’Sullivan’s) choice not mine. I very much hope so (that he will play) and I think for Ronnie’s sake. Life is very strange, as you look over your shoulder when you get older – you don’t want too many ‘I should have done this’ moments on your mind.

“And missing something like the World Championship for a player like Ronnie O’Sullivan, who loves snooker, there’s no question about that in my mind. I believe we will see him there and if we don’t I think he’s making a bad choice. But I recognise it is his choice to make.”

This seems to be a rather balanced view indeed.

The basic line is that we all make decisions that we see as the best for ourselves at the time we make them. Sometimes we come to regret them, and sometimes, those regrets serve as a springboard for us to rediscover hunger and motivation for things we fell a bit out of love with.

We, as fans, have just to wait and see, and accept whatever happens. I don’t think people understand fully the level of pressure and expectations Ronnie has to cope with since 25 years and counting, not just from the fans, but from the media, from the sponsors and, last but not least, from his own perfectionist self as well.