Wednesday, September 18

World Champion O’Sullivan guarded over snooker future


SHEFFIELD, United Kingdom: Ronnie O’Sullivan refused to say for definite if he would return to the Crucible Theatre after retaining snooker’s World Championship title at the Sheffield venue with an 18-12 win over Barry Hawkins on Monday.

His fifth World Championship title in total was all the more impressive as O’Sullivan had effectively taken a year out from the sport since his 2012 triumph.

Fans’ favourite O’Sullivan said during this year’s edition that he was only playing to pay his son’s overdue school fees and, not for the first time, threatened to retire from snooker.

“My main motive wasn’t to come here and win it. I was kind of bored, sitting on the sidelines with nothing going on and I thought, ‘I can do it’,” O’Sullivan told the BBC.

“And then coming here, I like Sheffield, I love the tournament and being at the Crucible, so it filled a nice gap of eight weeks and I’ve got to keep busy now,” added the 37-year-old, who beckoned his son, Ronnie junior, onto centre stage before receiving the trophy.

“It’s been great just to get something back in my life.”

Asked whether he would return to the Crucible next year, O’Sullivan replied: “I’ve had a great time and I enjoyed every moment. I love playing and I’m definitely going to be playing in some smaller events, as to me that’s just pure snooker.

“Here, there is a lot going on and it’s hard, but I just love playing so I will definitely be playing in some smaller events and we will just see what goes on,” said O’Sullivan, who has been working with renowned sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters.

“He (Peters) has been with me all the way,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t think I would have won back-to-back titles without him. Everyone knows me…I am up and down like a whore’s drawers. I didn’t know what to expect.

“I realised after a year out that I didn’t really miss snooker – I just missed having something to do, so if I can balance it with other things, then that’s the way forward for me,” O’Sullivan explained.

Meanwhile Hawkins was justifably proud of his efforts after his shock run to a first world championship final.

“I’m glad I made a game of it and pushed him a bit,” Hawkins said. “Hopefully I’ve got a few more years left and will come back and win it one day.”

O’Sullivan’s victory saw him become the first player to mount a successful title defence since Stephen Hendry in 1996.

‘The Rocket’ started Monday’s final session 15-10 ahead, needing just three more frames for victory and having already compiled six century breaks — a record for a Crucible final.

And it also meant O’Sullivan was now four in front of snooker great Hendry’s previous record total of Crucible centuries of 127, having rattled in breaks of 133 and 124 on Monday to add to contributions of 103, 106, 113 and 100 on Sunday.

But Hawkins kept him waiting by taking the first two frames of the evening session before a trio of 50-plus breaks O’Sullivan, widely regarded as snooker’s most naturally talented player, finished the match convincingly.

Hawkins, coached by 1979 world champion Terry Griffiths, showed his mettle by starting Monday’s final session with a break of 127, including a trebled black, and then took the next with a contribution of 66.

But O’Sullivan stilled thoughts of an improbable comeback with a break of 77 in the next.

Then typically stylish efforts worth 88 and 86 apiece saw O’Sullivan add to his 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012 titles. — AFP