Ronnie O'Sullivan eyes eighth World Championship title amid retirement talk


Ronnie O'Sullivan eyes eighth World Championship title amid retirement talk

Snooker great Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming to win an eighth World Championship title
Snooker great Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming to win an eighth World Championship title Profimedia
Ronnie O'Sullivan (48) may be the most gifted snooker player of his generation, but even the prospect of winning a modern-day record eighth world title has not stopped him from talking about retirement once again.

O'Sullivan threatening to quit snooker is almost as much of an annual event as the World Championships - which start on Saturday - themselves, but it's not one officials can disregard lightly given the Englishman remains the sport's biggest drawcard.

O'Sullivan has won both the UK Championships and the Masters, snooker's next two most important tournaments, this season but remains unsatisfied with his own form.

Days out from his latest attempt to break the mark of seven world titles he shares with Stephen Hendry, the 'Rocket' said he planned to give himself 12 months to see if he still wants to compete at the highest level.

"I'm in that situation at the moment where I've just got to get myself in a frame of mind for maybe the next however long," O'Sullivan, who faces Jackson Page of Wales in the first round, told Eurosport.

"I've given myself a year to the end of next year's World Championship to work with Steve (Peters - psychologist) and hope, you know, to get back to where I feel it's acceptable."

He added: "I'll only retire if I think I'm not playing well enough for long enough, which has been going on a while now. That's obviously something that distresses me enough to think, 'I don't want to keep doing that.'"

O'Sullivan also made headlines last week by calling for the World Championships to be moved from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, northern England - the tournament's home since 1977 - while suggesting larger venues in China and Saudi Arabia as alternative locations.

'Going blind'

Further proof of O'Sullivan's unrivalled ability among snooker players to cut through a British sporting landscape dominated by Premier League football came at this year's Masters, where he told his younger rivals their brains were too slow and they needed to raise their game "because I am going blind, I have a dodgy arm and bad knees - and they still can't beat me".

Nevertheless, four-time world champion Mark Williams, who beat O'Sullivan 10-5 in the Tour Championship final earlier this month, remains a threat.

So too does Mark Selby, another multiple world champion, who whitewashed O'Sullivan 6-0 in February.

Australia's Neil Robertson, the 2010 title-winner, lost in final qualifying but Belgium's Luca Brecel, the reigning world champion and China's Zhang Anda will lead an international challenge at an event long dominated by players from Britain and Ireland.

Snooker has changed a lot since England's Joe Davis won 15 consecutive world titles from 1927-46, often in one-off and lengthy challenge matches rather than today's tournament format.

But just as Davis was the one snooker player in his era most fans of other sports could name without hesitation so too, for better or worse, the same is true of O'Sullivan.


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