Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he remains “hungry” to chase a sixth Crucible title after wrapping up a 10-3 first-round win over Craig Steadman at the Betfred World Championship.
Just 24 hours after making headlines for taking off his shoes during the opening session against debutant Steadman, O’Sullivan polished off his opponent to set-up a last 16 meeting with Matthew Stevens.
At 39, the Chigwell potter accepts he is uncertain of how many more trips to Sheffield he has left as a player.
But yesterday the pre-tournament 2-1 favourite was flowing with positivity.
“I am hungry to win a sixth title because I am a hungry person, and I think that’s why I’ve been so successful over the years,” said O’Sullivan.
“I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t win it. I’ve won five Worlds, five UKs and five Masters and I’m still here.
“I don’t know how many more times I’ll be playing here so I just want to enjoy every match.
“I got off to a good start (against Steadman) and apart from a few misses, I’m pleased, you can’t pot everything so I was more pleased with how I just regrouped and got going again.”
O’Sullivan led 7-2 overnight and never looked in danger of being caught, although he did reveal his wardrobe faux pas.
In the sixth frame of Monday’s opening session, O’Sullivan kicked off his shoes and played in his socks, before borrowing a replacement pair from tournament director Mike Ganley.
“I bought some new shoes before the tournament and it was a bad, bad move,” said O’Sullivan.
“When I was buying them I thought ‘these don’t look right’ but I’m not into fashion so I bought them anyway.
“If there’s a top shoe maker out there that wants to sort me out with a nice pair, send your boys down. I’ve got these old battered things on at the minute that I’ve had for about 10 years, so I’d appreciate a new pair.
“When I put Mike’s shoes on they had this big instep in them, but actually they were so comfortable, they were like heaven. Thanks to Mike because I was desperate, I was even asking people in the crowd if they could lend me some size eights.”
Next up for O’Sullivan is Stevens, who was an impressive 10-2 winner in the all-Welsh clash with Mark Williams.
Former Masters champion Stevens is twice a Crucible runner-up, but the 37-year-old has slipped down the rankings in recent years to 35th, yet showed against Williams he still has the game to compete.
“I thought I played pretty solid, it wasn’t fireworks but it was a lot better than I have been playing,” said Stevens.
“It’s never nice playing Mark, we’ve known each other for 28 years, but you’ve got to go out there and do a job. I’m obviously a massive underdog against Ronnie which I don’t mind. I was underdog against Mark too, I wasn’t expected to win that match.
“I’m just going to enjoy the game, if I lose I lose but I will give it my best shot. I’m not afraid of Ronnie, I will just go out there and play my own game.”
Shaun Murphy – looking to mark the 10th anniversary of his 2005 Crucible triumph with his second world title – took a commanding 7-2 overnight lead against Finland’s Robin Hull. The match concludes tonight.
Cambridgeshire cueman Joe Perry beat Chinese qualifier Zhang Anda 10-4.