Ronnie O’Sullivan on facing Mark Williams: ‘He’s all done and dusted, shouldn’t even be here’

Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Mark Williams in the World Championship quarter-final (Picture: Getty Images)

Asked to assess the game of World Championship opponent Mark Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan sounded as dismissive as could be: ‘He’s all done and dusted, shouldn’t even be here.’

So often with the Rocket you are not sure whether he is joking or not, but the chuckle that ended that statement confirmed that his tongue was firmly in his cheek.

The five-time world champion takes on three-time world champion Williams in the quarter-finals at the Crucible starting on Monday as the legend of the Class of 92 continue to ride high.

O’Sullivan blasted the young talent in snooker, saying he would have to lose an arm and a leg to drop out of the world’s top 50, which is why the veterans are still going strong.

Asked to assess Williams’ game at the moment, Ronnie said: ‘He’s 45, he’s all done and dusted, shouldn’t even be here. I don’t know what he’s doing here.’

The Welshman, like the Rocket, has looked to take the pressure off himself at this stage of his career and try to just play for enjoyment, something that O’Sullivan says is crucial.

‘I think you have to at some point because there’s only so much pressure you can take,’ explained Ronnie. ‘We all love this sport. Even Ray Reardon at 78, he still wants to get his cue out of the case, but it has to be on your terms at some point.

‘When you’re younger you’ve got all the hunger and desire, you want to win these tournaments.

‘Then it’s like anything. I look at it like people who are CEOs of companies, they end up going to four or five different companies in their career just for a change, to freshen up.

‘We just play the same sport, we can’t just go and take up golf or boxing to freshen it up. At some point you have to get yourself motivated, whether that’s taking the pressure off, whether that’s getting another hobby or job or something just to keep you fresh.’

O’Sullivan booked his date with the Welsh Potting Machine thanks to an impressive 13-10 victory over Ding Junhui in the second round.

He feels he will need to improve against Williams, but he reminded viewers that ultimately, he doesn’t really care whether he wins or loses.

‘Hopefully I can play alright and give him a bit of a game, but the way I’ve been playing I’ve got to tighten up a bit and play a bit better,’ he said.

‘But to be honest with you I don’t really care anymore, I care when I get out there but otherwise I’m pretty good at switching off and it’s just a bit of fun really.

‘There’s so many more important things going on in my life and everybody else’s life that you should be able to come and have some fun, that’s the key really.’

This will be the fifth time O’Sullivan and Williams have met at the Crucible, with the Rocket winning all four of the previous encounters.

They first met professionally in 1994, but O’Sullivan remembers their history going even further back than that.

‘People forget, we were playing on the junior circuit from 1986 onwards, me and Williams were playing in Pro-Ams together all the time,’ the Rocket told Betfred.

‘Then Higgins come along I think in ’89 so me and Williams had two or three years of battling each other then we had this little Scottish fella come along, Higgins.

‘I’ve looked and thought: “Who’s this little geezer?”

‘So we’ve had lots of battles as juniors, amateurs and now professionals, so we’ve been in each other’s heads for probably 34 years now.’

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan slams young talent in snooker: ‘I’d have to lose an arm and a leg to drop out of the top 50’

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan surges past Ding Junhui and into World Snooker Championship quarter-final

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