Welsh Open snooker 2021: 'I didn't know how good it was' – Ronnie O'Sullivan reveals greatest break
Ronnie O'Sullivan faces Ali Carter in the Welsh Open quarter-finals in a similar mood that helped him achieve his greatest break of all time. The six-times defending world champion admits he is keen to clear the table at one visit against the odds, the same sort of mindset that saw him produce an inspired 92 knock in the seventh frame of his 18-11 win over Carter in the 2012 world final.
Ronnie O’Sullivan will hope to be inspired by memories of his greatest break of all time when he faces old foe Ali Carter in the Welsh Open quarter-finals (LIVE on Eurosport at 1pm) as he chases a fifth title at the event.
The six-times defending world champion admits he feels in the same sort of mood at Celtic Manor to clear up against the odds that saw him famously defy logic in the seventh frame of his 18-11 win over Carter in the 2012 Crucible final.
O'Sullivan has made 1,088 centuries and counting and 15 competitive maximum breaks – including the fastest 147 in history of only five minutes and eight seconds in 1997 – but rates his 92 with pink and black out of commission and colours splattered all over the table as the finest effort of his 29-year professional career.
It saw the celebrated break-builder Willie Thorne, commentating feverishly on the final, conclude that "he'd do well to get above 20 here" before O'Sullivan went mining for green baize gold.
O'Sullivan has told Eurosport he is no doubt about the audacity of that clearance as he moved 4-3 clear of Carter and was never again level in claiming a third world title – four years after his 18-8 win over his fierce Essex rival in the 2008 final.
"I think the 90-odd that I did in the final against Ali Carter..I didn't realise how good that was until I looked back at it," said O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan's 2012 win over Ali Carter is one of his greatest
Image credit: PA Sport
"I didn't come to the table thinking I'd clear up. I never had a set routine. People ask me: 'How many shots do you think ahead?'
The answer is, 'I don't'. I just think: 'I have to get round here at some point, and get up here at some point. And it would be ideal to take that one last and if I take that one, I can get down here..'
"I'm not a methodical thinker. I make it up as I go along so that was a really good break."
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O'Sullivan has lost only twice to the 2020 Masters finalist in 21 meetings since 2001, but their most memorable dust-up saw them brush shoulders during Carter's 13-9 win in the last 16 of the 2018 World Championship.
With world number one Judd Trump losing 4-2 Hossein Vafaei in the last 32 in Newport, O'Sullivan is the new 11-8 favourite for a 38th ranking title.
The Welsh Open is also the scene of his favourite 147 of all time when he uncorked his 12th maximum in the final frame of a 9-3 win over Ding Junhui in the 2014 final.
The shot of the tournament seven years ago saw him float the final red into the green pocket down the cushion left-handed before screwing back the length of the table for the black to set up the 147 perfectly before an animated audience.
"One of the maximums I made against Ding in the Welsh felt really good because here are some good shots in there and some good cue ball control," he commented.
O'Sullivan has dropped only one frame to Zhou Yuelong in a 4-1 win in the last 16 of this year's event following three heavy-scoring 4-0 victories against Robbie Williams, Jimmy White and Martin Gould respectively to reach the cusp of an 80th ranking event semi-final.
Having produced knocks of 67, 64 and 89 against the UK Championship semi-finalist, he finished off with a 74 in the fifth frame that invoked memories of his 92 against Carter with the reds not kindly placed for a match-winning contribution.
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“Even when you are playing badly, you think that you have to try and win every frame in one visit," he explained. "It is just a normal mindset for a top player, that you think if you need more than one chance it isn’t good. The start point is that I want to clear up.
At the end of the day, it is how good your bad game is. If I can just get my bad game a bit higher, it keeps me in the game a bit longer. I can’t settle for mediocre, so I think I just have to go back to how I was play.