From stinking the room out on Saturday to the sweet smell of success a day later, the incomparable Ronnie O’Sullivan continues to be an intrepid theatrical explorer as much as a genuine sporting icon on the cusp of an aromatic 30th year potting balls for a living.
The astonishing heights he continues to scale after a career of outrageous longevity is perhaps only matched in his own sport by his old foes John Higgins and Mark Williams, who also turned professional in 1992 armed with a cue and similar aspirations on the old green baize. Time will not wither them.
World Grand Prix
'It’s a bit like 10 Downing Street here' - O'Sullivan revels in party atmosphere
19/12/2021 AT 22:15
The audacious and daring nature of O’Sullivan’s 10-8 win over an in-form Australian Neil Robertson in the final of the World Grand Prix in Coventry on Sunday had to be seen to be believed, but then again should not come as a major surprise when you are the game’s undisputed greatest performer, a figure who transcends snooker for the quick-thinking manner in which he dissects a table.
The golden touch of O'Sullivan's genius continues to glitter under the intense scrutiny and bedlam of a major final. He remains a fabulous pressure player under the weight of his own expectations.
“The difference when I’m not playing well and the atmosphere and when I am playing well and the atmosphere..it is like a different energy so it is nice to bring that energy to a venue, to people and a game," said O'Sullivan.
I suppose only certain sports people have that like Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi..they bring something to the table and when you watch them it keeps you intrigued.
“I suppose that is why when I play, and get going and do stuff, that is why people gravitate towards watching me play."
A record 38th ranking title was carried off in a style suitable to his grand standing as he fought his way back into the light when all looked lost. Having being consigned to second spot in five finals since lifting his sixth world crown in August 2020, the meaning of the occasion was not lost on a magnanimous Robertson.
I know Ronnie lost a few finals last season, so as a fan of the game and a fan of him, it was fantastic to see him play so well tonight.
It would not be an O’Sullivan match without a touch of glorious festive farce to adorn the goings on.
Having found his Sunday best – and arguably some of the best form of his gilded 29-year professional career – to bamboozle a slightly stunned Robertson from 7-5 behind and seemingly doomed, O’Sullivan found time to make his own personal plea to the powers that be.
With snooker marooned behind closed doors in Milton Keynes for large swathes of last season due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, O’Sullivan is keen to keep potting in the pandemic before exuberant crowds.
“The fans have been amazing all week, even though there is Covid going on,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s a bit like 10 Downing Street here tonight, rules have gone out the window. Mass spreading.
“We played in front of no crowds last year and it was horrible. First when the crowds came back it was a bit nerve-wracking, but it is good to have them here.
“Please no more lockdowns, let’s just get on with it.”
O’Sullivan might not be in favour of any lockdowns in society, but he does not mind them on the snooker table with Robertson – who returned to the frame after recent health problems with pulsative tinnitus which disturbed both his balance and hearing – left self-isolating in his chair after appearing seemingly destined for a second World Grand Prix success and a £100,000 winner’s cheque.
O’Sullivan had produced a break of 90 in the seventh frame, but the Melburnian was in control of his faculties and the table with resounding knocks of 72, 62, 51, 59, 128 and 88 justifying his standing as pre-match favourite.
Yet it remains fool’s gold to bet against the only way is Essex when the chips are down. O’Sullivan can reel off frames quicker than he can run miles during his down time.
Robertson scored only 47 points in five of the final six frames. He kept the match alive with a run of 78 in the 17th frame, but was largely left admiring the quality of the fare in front of him as O’Sullivan timed his gallop with customary precision as breaks of 90, 77, 77 and 77 helped him dominate five of the last six frames.
Having been impaled 10-4 by Robertson in the final of the Tour Championship earlier in the year, it was a measure of revenge and a timely reminder that O’Sullivan’s powers are hardly on the wane. Especially if you recall that Stephen Hendry lifted the last of his seven world titles aged 30 in 1999. Steve Davis was 31 in carrying off his sixth and final Crucible title a decade earlier.
“I’m just appreciative to still be able to play,” said O’Sullivan. “46, it is still good to be playing. Most of the other great players didn’t win much past their early 30s.”

O'Sullivan produces incredible double against Li Hang en route to semis

O’Sullivan explained how he tinkers with the technique and stance like the fabled 'People's Champion' Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins until he finds the winning formula. It was an experiment that delivered a timely therapeutic in leaving his opponent impotent.
He faces 'Jackpot' Jack Lisowski in the opening match of the Masters next month as he pursues an eighth title at the sport's most coveted non-ranking event at London's Alexandra Palace, a tournament he incredibly first conquered in 1995.
“People like me and Alex Higgins are bit unpredictable I suppose. It is like a feeling you are looking for,” he said. “When you get the feeling, it is bang, and you're off and running again.
“I’d rather play well and lose and be involved in a good match than win and play awful. If I had won that without finding a gear, I’d have been sitting really disappointed and felt bad for the fans.
“But because I got a little buzz, the match finished well and Neil played good so it was alright.
“But when you are stinking gaffes out, it is not a nice feeling. You don’t feel good about it.”
Back as a winner after a 16-month wait in potting purgatory, O'Sullivan has regained the feel-good factor ahead of his latest trip to the Masters.
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World Grand Prix
O'Sullivan produces stirring fightback to beat Robertson in World Grand Prix final
19/12/2021 AT 16:20
World Grand Prix
World Grand Prix Final as it happened - O'Sullivan beats Robertson 10-8
19/12/2021 AT 11:28