Pressure no issue at Crucible for relaxed O’Sullivan

On cue: Ronnie O'Sullivan. Picture: Steven Paston/PAOn cue: Ronnie O'Sullivan. Picture: Steven Paston/PA
On cue: Ronnie O'Sullivan. Picture: Steven Paston/PA
Ronnie O’Sullivan is 3-1 favourite to claim his sixth Crucible crown at the Betfred World Championship.

But you won’t hear the 43-year-old – back at the top of the world rankings after five tournament wins this season – moaning about having to deal with pressure.

Quite the opposite, for O’Sullivan, who puts his huge reputation on the line today in his first-round match against James Cahill – the first amateur player to compete at the Crucible.

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“If you don’t feel pressure then you are probably not going to perform well,” O’Sullivan told The Yorkshire Post.

“The reason why people like Tiger Woods and Usain Bolt produce such fantastic performances is because they probably raise their level because of the expectation.

“People use this word pressure, ‘oh, there’s too much pressure’. I don’t understand that.

“If I said to you, ‘you need to get out of this room in 24 hours, otherwise your life is going to end’, you would probably find a way out of that room.

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“Sometimes when the pressure is on you, you find a way to overcome obstacles.

“I don’t subscribe to there ever being too much pressure. The more pressure you are under, the better it is.”

It is six years since O’Sullivan claimed his fifth world title, but he is still the man to beat, despite scaling down his workload on snooker’s expanded tour.

Success now, has to come on O’Sullivan’s own terms.

Mark Williams, at 43 one of O’Sullivan’s long-time adversaries, admitted he spent the last 12 months enjoying life as world champion – to the detriment of his snooker game – making his own rules, travelling the globe, and spending time with his family.

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It’s a philosophy that O’Sullivan can understand, and embraces himself.

“I have done that all my life,” he said. “I think that’s the way everybody should live their life, but they don’t. You have to live life on your own terms, your own rules. You can only eat three meals a day, you can only sleep in one bed and you can only drive one car.

“All the importance that people put on certain things I don’t really put as much importance on.

“Sometimes you just have to enjoy what you do because if you don’t enjoy your life, you can win 30 world titles and it doesn’t really mean much.

“I think it is important to do what you want to do.

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“I feel like I’ve been retired for the last 10 years really. I play and enjoy it, but I never set out to break records, or become a better player at the end of the season.

“I just play the game because it fills my day up and I do it on my own terms.

“I will probably still be playing when I am 70, in some form or another. I can’t guarantee that, but what else are you going to do?

“I was born to play snooker, it’s something I have done for a long time, and my life would probably be a lot duller without it.”

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Snooker would certainly be duller without O’Sullivan, the sport’s box-office draw.

He has won titles at this season’s UK Championship in York, Players Championship, Tour Championship, Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions.

Not that he measures success with the number of trophies on display.

“If you ask me how my year has been, I would say absolutely fantastic,” he said. “Not because of the titles or records, but I have just had a really good year. That’s how I value my life. “Success is not just about snooker, it’s about enjoying what you have done. Snooker is just a part of that.

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“Maybe when I am 60 and they introduce me at the Crucible as the ‘five-time winner’ or whatever they say, it’s probably them moments which you might think are nice. But as a player, you don’t start giving yourself a pat on the back.”

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