World Championship: ‘I was never born a winner’ says snooker’s gladiator Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against David Gilbert. Picture: PARonnie O'Sullivan in action against David Gilbert. Picture: PA
Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against David Gilbert. Picture: PA
‘Gladiator’ Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he does not care about records as he reached two more milestones on the opening weekend of the Betfred World Championship.

His first-round match against David Gilbert on his 30th appearance at the Crucible matched the record set by Steve Davis, and the 10-5 victory was his 70th at the famous Sheffield theatre, a feat achieved by Stephen Hendry back in 2012.

“I don’t look at them,” replied O’Sullivan, when asked about equalling two Crucible milestones. “I just back myself. I was never born a winner, I had to have it drummed into me, a bit like Tiger Woods and Serena Williams – I had that same type of father figure as them.

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“Mentally I was toughened up. Once you get a taste for winning, it’s hard to settle for anything other than being the best you can be.

“Whatever I’m doing now I try to be the best I can be. Thirty appearances doesn’t really mean anything to me. I want to be a champion and do the business. That’s what I’m proud of. I don’t care about centuries, I don’t care about maximums. I just care about how many majors I’ve won. It’s all about those.”

If O’Sullivan lifts the famous trophy at the end of 17 days in Sheffield, the 46-year-old will match Hendry’s record haul of seven world titles.

Gilbert, a Crucible semi-finalist in 2019, actually raced into a 3-0 lead but O’Sullivan stepped up a gear to lead 6-3 overnight, before securing victory on Sunday.

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“I’m just there competing, like Gladiator,” O’Sullivan said. “I just find a way, like gladiators do. I drew on all my past experience, all my skills, everything I’ve learned. I don’t know what it is, but you just do it. That’s what I was born to do.

“Snooker is challenging but it teaches you something about your character. Some players are like robots. And I’m not one of those, I’m quite an emotional character. Some days it gets tough, and I ask myself why I am doing this? But I somehow just do it.”

Mark Williams resumes this afternoon, leading Michael White 7-2. World No 13 Anthony McGill concludes his opening match against Liam Highfield with a 6-3 overnight advantage.

Defending champion Mark Selby beat Jamie Jones 10-7, while Barry Hawkins lost by the same scoreline to Jackson Page.

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