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Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘chuckling’ at his rivals as he makes ‘one last effort’ for glory


Ronnie O’Sullivan has found a new attitude in York this week (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he has been enjoying seeing some big names tumble out of the UK Championship in the early rounds, while he has adopted a more focussed attitude in ‘one last effort’ for glory on the table.

O’Sullivan beat Mark King 6-3 on Monday afternoon to reach the last 16 of the UK Championship in York, making one century (108) and five half-centuries along the way.

The Rocket is looking dialled in during the tournament so far, playing solid stuff and he says he has abandoned the all-out-attack that he has been adopting of late, swapping it for a more sensible approach.

‘Tough player, Mark I knew it was going to be tough before I went out there so I just had to focus on doing the Steve Peters stuff,’ O’Sullivan told the BBC, referring to the renowned sports psychiatrist.

‘I’m trying, I’ve just been playing like exhibition snooker since I won the World Championships [in 2020], so I thought it’s obviously not good enough, when it comes to the nitty gritty I’ve just given up really.

‘If it was there great, if it weren’t I was just thinking, “lovely, get home early and do something else.”

‘I haven’t got long now, though, so I think just one last effort, I suppose, and see what’s round the corner.’

It is a new attitude from just a week ago when O’Sullivan was describing snooker tournaments as a holiday and saying he was as happy working for Eurosport as he is playing so didn’t mind whether he was in or out of the event.

Asked what has caused the change in heart, Ronnie told Metro.co.uk: ‘I just thought I’d give it a go, it’s like you’ve got a toolbox, sometimes you use some things, sometimes you use others.

‘That’s in my toolbox to use, I thought I’d try it to freshen things up. It’s like bringing a new football manager into a club to bring fresh things and get you motivated.

‘I don’t enjoy it as much, I’d rather crash balls in, but I had to be a bit more careful with my shot selection. When you’re engrossed in the game a bit more you choose different shots, so it’s got its plusses and minuses, I suppose.

‘If I don’t get results from it I’ll go back to exhibition snooker and start having a slash up and some days they go in, some days they don’t.

‘It won’t be kamikaze, it will be done in a graceful manner, that’s how I play the game, but at my stage of my career it’s more important that I can enjoy it.’

The 45-year-old admits that he finds the more circumspect style of play much more difficult because it doesn’t suit him, certainly nowhere near as much as it suits other players.

‘It’s so much easier when you’re playing exhibition snooker, you just go for it, but when you’re playing match snooker you have to think about everything, it gets boring after a while,’ he told the BBC.

O’Sullivan is eyeing up an eighth UK Championship title in York this year (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’m not built like that, John Higgins is, probably [Mark] Selby, [Mark] Williams, but I ain’t that type of player, there’s only so much I can do. Then I have to start free wheeling at some point, to play the way I like to play.

‘But I accept that I have to sometimes work at it a bit, because then the Snooker Gods will reward you at some point.’

The Rocket still says that ‘results are irrelevant’ to him, but he is clearly putting in more effort to win matches now and he also admits that watching his rivals lose has brought a smile to his face.

The likes of Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy are all out of the UK Championship already, and it is far from bad news for the six-time world champion.

‘Obviously you hear about it and I’ll have a little chuckle when I see them all getting bombed out,’ he said.

‘They’re sitting there biting their nails, twitching up all over the gaff and I’m thinking, “Oh lovely, beautiful.”

O’Sullivan plays either Noppon Saengkham or Stuart Bingham in the last 16.


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