Neil Robertson believes there is no way that Ronnie O'Sullivan will allow the pressure of equalling Stephen Hendry's record to get to him at the 2021 World Championship.
The Australian exclusively told Eurosport that O'Sullivan has achieved far too much in the game to be affected by the expectations of him winning a seventh world title at the Crucible.
Robertson, who clinched his sole World Championship title back in 2010, was asked who his favourites were for the title in Sheffield and he was quick to talk up O'Sullivan's chances.
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"Definitely Ronnie," Robertson told presenter Andy Goldstein on Eurosport’s The Break snooker podcast on the day the draw for the first round was announced.
It's amazing that he has lost five finals this season: he is going to be so hungry. Especially as he will be going to try and equal Hendry's record, there is going to be so much motivation for him.
"He may play it down, but you saw last year when he won it and equalled Steve Davis' record how much it meant to him. So Ronnie, [John] Higgins, Judd [Trump], [Mark] Selby: they are the clear ones, the stand-outs. I would expect the winner to be someone who is not a surprise, but you never know.
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"He [O'Sullivan] is genuine when he says he is not too fussed. He won't let it affect him, in terms of the pressure, but if he were to do it [win a seventh world title] he will realise what he has done.
"He is too experienced and has won enough in the game to show you that he doesn't really think about those things when he is playing. He will use it as positive motivation; he certainly won't succumb to the pressure of it."
The 39-year-old is himself one of the big favourites to triumph in Sheffield, and he swatted away the challenge of O’Sullivan to claim the Tour Championship with a brilliant 10-4 win just last month. But, even though he believes he is playing better than ever right now, he has admitted that he must learn from O'Sullivan and his previous defeats at the Crucible.
"I'm definitely playing the best I've ever played," he said. "I've never been satisfied with a certain level and I've really put the work in. It's nice to see it pay off.
"It's the first time I've beaten Ronnie over that kind of distance [at the Tour Championship]. I've beaten Ronnie in a couple of finals before, but never a multiple-session final. To do it the way I did was just brilliant.
"If you look at Ronnie and what he has done at the World Championship, he always has a session when he blows someone away and he is always there every session.
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"He doesn't have too many bad sessions, but when he has a good session it's a great session, where he almost wins the match in one session.
"That's something I've got to look at, and to play matches on my terms. If I play matches on my terms then someone has to play so, so well to win.
Last year I played on Selby's terms, the year before I played on John Higgins' terms - scrappy matches, not what I want to be a part of. Long frames.
"If you look at the last eight-nine years or so, Ronnie and Selby have won three [world titles] each, so there have not been too many opportunities there.
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"Judd Trump has only won the World Championship once, so the same argument could be made for him as well: why hasn't he won more?
"When people are playing me, when the balls are open, they know if they miss they are going to lose the frame, and that applies a lot of pressure to their game."
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