The latest news and buzz around Ronnie O'Sullivan ahead of The Rocket's tilt at a seventh World Championship snooker crown at The Crucible.
Reigning world champion O'Sullivan is the top seed for the biggest competition of the season in Sheffield, and will open the event on Saturday 17 April at 10am (LIVE on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app).
In advance of the World Championship getting underway, check back in with us here regularly to catch up with the 45-year-old's latest news and antics as he prepares to defend his title.
'I wanted to win it for my nan' – Bingham reveals personal anguish
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O'Sullivan 'amazes me'
Ronnie O'Sullivan 'never ceases to amaze', according to Eurosport's Neal Foulds. He still believes that the Rocket has what it takes to claim another famous win at the Crucible
"Losing in finals is not his style – we’re used to seeing him either get beat early in tournaments or generally go on to win them – but now he’s turned into Mr Consistency," Foulds told Sporting Life.
O’Sullivan never ceases to amaze me, even to this day.
"He might not have had too many complaints about losing to John Higgins in the Players Championship final, or even to Robertson on Sunday, given the way that pair played in those matches, but O'Sullivan has only won one ranking title in two years now, for all that victory did come in the World Championship.
"By his incredibly high standards, you’d have to say he’s been quiet while evidently still having his game in good shape. Can he win in Sheffield? I wouldn’t rule it out, but he has played a lot of snooker this season and that could catch up with him at some point, while I’d be wary of knee-jerk reactions to Robertson’s win with Sheffield in mind.
"He has a big chance, of course, but Higgins looked to have World Championship winner written all over him when cantering to victory at the Players Championship before he came unstuck last week."
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'I feel sorry for whoever plays him'
Neil Robertson expects a "fired up" O'Sullivan to recover strongly from his ranking final misery when he defends the world title at the Crucible next month.
"The crowd add something different. Maybe not with me, (John) Higgins, Judd (Trump) and Mark (Selby). We're very experienced so we are kind of exempt from that and know how to deal with that," said Australia's leading player.
It's just one of those things. It is only going to motivate Ronnie more in the World Championship. He's going to be harder to beat than in any other year because he's going to be going there so determined.
"He may not say it, but that's going to really annoy him and really fire him up. I feel sorry for whoever he plays in the first couple of rounds because he's going to be up for it, that's for sure."
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'Like he was playing on a pool table'
O’Sullivan claims Neil Robertson’s performance in the Tour Championship final is the best he has ever seen after losing 10-4 on Sunday.
The Rocket failed to make an impression in the evening session, being unable to take advantage of the few openings offered to him, as he lost all six frames – making just 26 points.
O’Sullivan has now lost all five finals he has featured in this season, a troublesome statistic ahead of the World Championship next month. However, the six-time world champion insists that Robertson was simply too good and backed him to be the man to beat at the Crucible.
“I’ve never seen anyone play as well as that,” O’Sullivan said on ITV. “His cue action is just ridiculous – straight through the ball, tempo doesn’t change, opens his back hand like you’ve never seen anyone open it before. It’s just ridiculous really.
It’s unbelievable. It was like he was playing on a pool table today. I can’t compete with that. I just had to sit back and enjoy it.
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Can O'Sullivan claim Tour Championship title?
Barry Hawkins and O'Sullivan will go head-to-head in the semi-finals of the Tour Championship at Celtic Manor on Saturday.
Hawkins produced the goods with a huge upset as he knocked out a defiant Judd Trump 10-7 in the quarter-finals of the tournament earlier in the week.
But it will be an even bigger shock if he can topple The Rocket to produce back-to-back upsets.
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Will O'Sullivan and Trump meet in world final?
O'Sullivan and Judd Trump could meet in the World Championship final in early May with the top 16 seeds for the £2,395,000 event already confirmed.
In keeping with tradition, defending six-times champion O'Sullivan is the top seed and will open the 45th staging of the sport's biggest event in Sheffield against a qualifier over the best-of-19 frames at 10am on Saturday 17 April before concluding his first-round match from 7pm later that night.
World number one Trump is in the bottom half of the draw and is guaranteed to be seeded two no matter what happens in this week's Tour Championship involving the top eight on the one-year list.
Trump and O'Sullivan have met only once at the World Championship with O'Sullivan enjoying a 17-11 win in the 2013 semi-finals on his way to claiming his fifth title at the Crucible eight years ago.
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O'Sullivan right on cue with victory over Higgins
O'Sullivan admitted he breathed a "sigh of relief" after overcoming his cue crisis to complete a 10-8 win over old foe John Higgins in the Tour Championship quarter-finals at Celtic Manor in Wales.
The world champion revealed before his meeting with Higgins that he considered withdrawing from the elite event involving the top eight on the World Snooker Tour one-year ranking list because he was unhappy with the condition of his cue.
"I've had a nightmare with my cue," said O'Sullivan before the match after encountering issues during the WST Pro Series event last week. "I put it in the menders and I got it back. It was no good, but sending it back has made it worse. It's kind of irretrievable now so I need to get myself a new cue.
If I had been given the option to pull out, take my prize money and given (Welsh Open winner) Jordan Brown my place, I would definitely have taken that option because it is better to go to someone who has a good chance of winning.
"As for today, I don't expect too much from my game. I've just got to come here, collect my prize money and try to do something today."
Despite his concerns, O'Sullivan produced a gritty and gallant display laced with moments of his trademark brilliance to reach the last four and a best-of-19 frame semi-final showdown with world number one Judd Trump or Barry Hawkins in the chase for a £150,000 first prize.
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'Not good for the soul' - O'Sullivan 'done' with Milton Keynes
O'Sullivan bemoaned the amount of time he has had to spend in Milton Keynes after having played in the same venue for much of the last year.
The reigning world champion has taken part in 10 tournaments at the MK Stadium this season, with the snooker tour having been essentially based there.
"I am just glad that I haven’t got to come back to Milton Keynes this season," O'Sullivan was quoted as saying.
"I am done there now… I have done my time! I am not sure I could ever come back to the place. I was lucky, I didn’t stay here as much as some of the other players depending on how strict the bubble was.
I dipped in and out a bit. But I did one tournament where I stayed from start to finish and it was not good for the soul.
"So I am delighted I am not back there for sure for the rest of this season…and I just don’t know about next season. Who does know?
"I suppose Barry Hearn might have an idea. Maybe he has done a job lot deal and will stage snooker, darts, pool, ping pong and fishing all there at once.
"You’d have to build a lake for the fishing, maybe they’ll stick a little lake out there in the car park. But let’s hope not."
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'Oh dear!' - O'Sullivan farts, can't stop laughing, plays shot one-handed
O'Sullivan could hardly contain his amusement at the 2021 WST Pro Series as he produced a comical display at the unusual event.
The 45-year-old struggled to take his match against Tom Ford at all seriously, as he came up with a range of antics. He finished bottom of Group I on frame difference, but still found ways to make the evening memorable.
After joking away with Ford prior to the match getting underway, the Rocket proceeded to strike the pink with his break-off to gift his opponent an immediate six-point lead via the foul.
He was presented another opportunity to get into the frame, but then decided to take on a wild one-handed shot which, unsurprisingly, did not result in a pot.
Further antics were to follow in the second frame as O'Sullivan farted loudly while coming up from his crouched stance after he drained a black to the corner pocket.
He then could not stop laughing as he continued his break and, without stopping to compose himself, got to 50 before Ford was able to score 84 to close out the bizarre match.
O'Sullivan, whose average shot time in the match was a ridiculous 11.1 seconds, could be heard saying to his opponent as he played on: "Oh dear!"
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Selby set to defend European Masters in Germany
'Blow away the cobwebs' – Wilson begins title defence in style