Ronnie O'Sullivan will begin his bid to claim a record fourth Champion of Champions title against Stuart Bingham on Thursday afternoon with his passion and panache for potting balls showing no signs of wilting.
For a figure who has seen and done it all in snooker since turning professional in 1992, Rocket Ronnie's love of the ancient old game sounds as strong as ever.
The six-times world champion admits he loved his battle with time-honoured foe John Higgins in the semi-finals of the English Open in Milton Keynes last week despite losing 6-5, but is hopeful he can maintain his form in Bolton as he bids to end his 15-month wait for a trophy.
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O'Sullivan could face Higgins for a semi-final spot in Group 3 on Thursday night and is feeling in fine fettle only two months before he enters his 30th year as a professional still at the summit of the sport.
It is perhaps fitting that the snooker GOAT enjoys a spot of green baize grazing when he is far from the madding crowd.
"I had a great week last week and really enjoyed the match with John. I loved being in Milton Keynes, loved running and of course I loved playing," said O'Sullivan.
"I sometimes prefer the punditry side and sitting on the sofa watching snooker these days.
"Even when I'm not playing at a tournament, I'll get my tea and sit on the sofa to watch it with my friends.
I'll say to them: 'Listen, the snooker is on this week so we'll get our fitness stuff done, but at 1pm the snooker is on and at 7pm the evening session starts. I want to watch it.
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"We'll do the gym and the running work in the morning, but I always love watching it. I love to see what the other guys are up to. It is great."
O'Sullivan won the first of three Champion of Champion titles when he defeated Bingham 10-8 in the 2013 final, two years before Bingham usurped O'Sullivan 13-9 in the last eight on his way to claiming the world title in Sheffield.
O'Sullivan defeated Judd Trump 10-7 a year later before outlasting Kyren Wilson 10-9 in the 2018 final.
The record 37-times ranking event winner admits he would enjoy clasping a fourth trophy and the £150,000 first prize on Sunday night.
"If every event was like this, happy days..it would be amazing," said O'Sullivan, who hit 11 centuries during his run to the title three years ago. "Turn up, 16 or 32 players, beautiful venue and nice, relaxed environment.
"I have a very, very good record in this event and I'm happy to be playing in it.
I probably haven't done so well the past few years, but who knows? Perhaps I can catch fire this week and get the job done.
O'Sullivan is delighted fans have been allowed to return after tournaments were played behind closed-doors last year with no spectators due to the global pandemic.
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He was impressed by Bingham during his free-wheeling gallop to the World Championship semi-finals as a qualifier in May and an agonising 17-15 defeat to Mark Selby in the semi-finals.
"I beat Ball Run in the final in 2013. He's an outstanding player," added O'Sullivan. "He's a real good professional who had an outstanding run at the World Championship this year.
"He played in an epic match in the semi-finals, but they are all tough. Everybody who plays in this tournament is proper quality and if I get through that it is Higgins again so it doesn't get any easier.
"It is great to have the fans back and someone to play for. You need someone to inspire you to play and I think the fans do that for all sportspeople."
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