Ronnie O’Sullivan appeared to aim criticism at snooker’s young players following his resounding 6-0 win over Zhou Yuelong in the last-16 of the UK Championship.
Zhou said before the match that O’Sullivan was a superhero, and it appeared he never got to grips with the occasion.
After being asked by Shaun Murphy if he had any advice for Zhou, 24, on dealing with the pressure of playing the world’s best, O’Sullivan responded in the interview on the BBC: “None. I’m not here to give advice.
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“I never had a problem with it, you watch the first time I was on TV, first poke 75, at 14.
“I never had a problem with crowds, big occasions, the bigger the occasion the more I liked it.
“If you can’t handle it then you’re going to struggle. I think it’s in your make-up, you’re born with the love of pressure, big occasions.
“You can’t teach that, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. That’s why winners are winners and some people don’t win as much.”
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“I think you’re born with it,” he continued.
“You look at some kids and they’re different, you don’t know what it is.
“We all knew about Stephen Hendry when he was 15, he was different, Steve Davis was different. Tiger Woods, you just look in their eyes, they have a different intensity.
“Some guys are just happy to be here and have a laugh and a joke. Some guys just have a pure intense desire, whether it’s with the game or with themselves, they love the challenge, love the competition.
“Some people thrive on it, some people don’t like it. Some people like it for a while but then can’t handle it for that long because it’s not easy. Dealing with pressure is not an easy thing. I’ve grown to enjoy it, if that makes sense.”
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Asked who on the current circuit has that special talent of handling pressure and big-match nerves, O’Sullivan dismissed all his rivals.
“I don’t think anyone has,” he said.
“There’s definitely not a Stephen Hendry or a John Higgins in my book. People do it in spells, but to maintain it is the hard thing.”
O'Sullivan also dismissed Murphy's criticism of his attitude towards snooker as "water off my back".
Murphy spoke out after the reigning world champion said snooker was "insignificant" to him. The 2005 world champion said it was "frustrating" to hear O'Sullivan and other players talk about "how little the game means to them".
"I am not interested in what anyone has got to say about me," O'Sullivan said.
"I absolutely vacated a long time ago."
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Stream the 2022 UK Championship and more top snooker action live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch Seventh Heaven, a two-part show about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s historic World Championship win last season, on demand now.
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