Ronnie O’Sullivan says he has “another three or four years maximum of playing top-level snooker”, with the Rocket revealing plans for a new series of events that would stop him being a “slave” to the tour.
The defending world champion, 45, admits that the packed schedule has taken its toll.
However, he wants to continue playing into his 50s and is hoping to create a scaled-back tour for older players not yet ready to drift onto the Seniors Tour.
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“I’ve accepted I’ve got another three or four years maximum of playing top level snooker,” O’Sullivan told the Metro.
“I don’t want to play much longer than that, so the next three years I just want to enjoy with an eye on playing on a tour that is maybe a bit more suited to how much I want to play. So I can compete but I’m not going to be a slave to playing tournament after tournament.”
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The snooker schedule has been relentless in the 2020-21 season, with the Northern Ireland Open, UK Championship, Scottish Open and World Grand Prix played back-to-back at Milton Keynes between November 16 and December 20.
“I can’t play and compete the way it is at the moment, they’re literally playing every day. It is every day. It doesn’t seem like there’s a separation from one tournament to the next,” said O’Sullivan.
“I would still like to play into my mid-50s, I still think I could make maximums and play to a very high standard, I don’t think I’m going to be able to compete week-in-week-out, physically you just don’t recover.
“I’ve noticed if I go deep into a tournament now, then for two or three days I’m knackered. I can’t keep up with the younger people, it’s not so much a physical thing, it’s more of a mental and just an age thing.”
O’Sullivan is looking to create a new tour aimed at ageing players jaded by the main tour but still too good for the Seniors Tour, citing the likes of Marco Fu and James Wattana who have stepped back from the circuit.
“Obviously there’s the exhibition circuit that I can always do, but it’s nice to have a platform to play,” O’Sullivan continued.
“A little bit like the Seniors Tour, but I don’t think I’m ready for the Seniors, I’d like to do something a bit in between, where players are still capable of making 147s and playing to a very high standard, but we’re all on a level playing field.
“So it might be eight or 10 tournaments, something on those lines. It’s for when I’ve finished on the main tour but I still want to play but I’m probably not good enough or young enough to compete on a level playing field with the rest of them.
“I think it would be unfair to go on the Seniors Tour, but I think there’s a gap in the middle for an eight-man event, 12-man event. Playing against people who are a little bit older but not past their sell-by date and can still play well enough.”
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