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.

 

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.

 

An interview with Laila Rouass

Laila Rouass was interviewed by Lebby Eyres 

Ronnie O’Sullivan beating his demons thanks to Holby City star fiancée Laila Rouass

Ronnie&Laila

Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan is beating his demons on and off the snooker table thanks to his secret weapon – fiancée Laila Rouass.

The five-time world champ is widely ­regarded as an all-time great of the sport but has been plagued by nerves.

But now the former badboy of snooker just needs to see his girlfriend rooting for him in the audience and his anxiety disappears.

And the ex Holby City and Footballer’s Wives star has also given him a big break from his ­erratic private life, characterised by weekly booze and drugs benders.

The proof of the duo’s success came earlier this month when Ronnie, 43, won the Shanghai Masters for the third year on the trot.

Ronnie even tried a romantic gesture when Laila touched down in the Chinese city but, unlike his game, this did not go to plan.

Modest Laila, 48, is not taking all the credit for changing Ronnie from a party animal who loved wild nights out to a more settled man who likes quiet evenings in with a glass of wine.

The couple, who had just been through break ups, met when Laila went to view his house. She did not know who he was.

But after being shy on their first date things moved quickly and they moved in together three months later. They have been engaged since 2012.

Laila said: “When I met him he was ­changing already. I’ve maybe centred him more.

“I’m a grounded person and Ronnie is so emotional, he wears his heart on his sleeve. I calmed him down in that way.”

Ronnie, nicknamed The Rocket, used to enjoy nights out with Oasis star Liam Gallagher and once spent a month in rehab to battle his drink and drug addiction.

He rarely drinks now – preferring to spend his time at the gym or cooking at home.

Laila said: “His partying days were over when we got together. He doesn’t drink at all really, he might have a glass of red wine once every couple of weeks but nothing regular.

Although Laila had mixed feelings about Ronnie’s Shanghai surprise when he presented her with a bunch of flowers at the airport.

Mum-of-one Laila laughed: “I wanted to kill him. I’d just come off a 12-hour flight, I looked like absolute s***, and there’s a bloody phone in my face and flowers shoved in my hand and I just thought WTF is going on?

“His friend was filming it. I don’t even want to look at it online, I was so embarrassed. I think it was more his friend’s idea than Ronnie’s. He’s ­really considerate – but I wouldn’t call him romantic.”

Ronnie explained about the very public display of affection: “I’m not the most ­romantic person in the world but I do my best. It’s one of my weak areas. I’m working on it though.”

Ronnie’s fast attacking style and incredible talent has turned him into a superstar and means he is away for about four months of the year. The rest of the time he likes being home with Laila.

“I’ve calmed him down in terms of ­anxiousness. It was nice to be with him in China I think he appreciated it.”

They have no plans to marry in the near future although Laila thinks they “will at some point”.

Laila, who has a north African background and six siblings, said her mum would invite ­everyone. She said: “I’d have to really gear myself up for a wedding. At the moment we’ve put it on the back burner and we’re enjoying our time so there’s no rush.

“It becomes a bit more important as you get older for legal reasons but for now we’re OK.” Dad-of-three Ronnie said: “If something’s not broke, why fix it? If it’s working why change a winning formula?”

One thing they have ruled out is a snooker -themed wedding. “That’d be tacky, I’d walk out,” laughed Laila.

While Ronnie travels the world Laila is working hard on a business venture.

Inspired by her glam role as Amber Gates in hit ITV series Footballers’ Wives, Laila has started a competition-based website where customers have the chance to win designer bags and shoes.

She said: “I love bags and shoes and that grew from doing shows like Footballers’ Wives where I was surrounded by them.

“I just really resent having to pay £2,000 or £1,500 for a handbag, or £600 for a pair of Louboutins. In this day and age, who has got that kind of money? The site is called bagmyshoes.com and it’s almost like a raffle.

“Tickets are £5.50 for brand new bag or £3.50 for the shoes, and there’s a skill-based question you have to answer.

“It’s taken me nearly a year to put it ­together – I want it to be a success. I really believe in it, I’ve invested my own money and I’m doing it alone.”

But fans of the actress, who played ­surgical registrar Sahira Shah for a year in Holby City, may see her on TV again.

She left Holby because she was missing out on daughter Inez’s schooling.

But the 12-year-old is now at boarding school and Laila would consider doing a soap or a series again.

In the past Ronnie, who became a grandad in October 2018 after eldest daughter Taylor-Ann had her first child, has been prescribed antidepressants for depression and anxiety.

Before the 2001 Snooker World Championships in Sheffield, which he won, a radio interview with him had to be cut short following a series of panic attacks.

But Laila believes he’s got to grips with his demons. She said: “Ronnie is very open and that’s a blessing.

“Occasionally he retreats into himself and you have to give him that time and he’ll find his way back. He recognises that feeling now. He’s got a lot of support.

“When you’ve got anxiety and ­depression you feel isolated as it is. It’s hard watching someone you love go through that. He’s spoken to some of the best people in the world about it so I think he’s got a good grip of it.”

The pair will be tuning in to Strictly Come Dancing , to see how Anton Du Beke, Laila’s pro partner from 2009, gets on.

She said: “I’m rooting for Anton with Emma Barton. He was my dance partner and poor guy, he hasn’t had much luck. Coming fourth with me that year was the closest he’s come to the final since we danced together.”

But the Strictly curse means Ronnie, awarded an OBE in 2016, will not follow in her footsteps.

She said: “In my year there was a couple and you thought, ‘we know something’s going on’ but when you’re with someone for six or seven days a week and you’re that close to them, it’s not surprising.

“I would not be happy if Ronnie said he was going to do Strictly!”…

Here is the offending video…