As Ronnie O’Sullivan embraced his opponent Judd Trump, the emotion poured out. A man who constantly declares that snooker is just a hobby, and that tournaments are a holiday, couldn’t keep up the façade any longer. It is rare to see O’Sullivan tearful, but that just goes to show the magnitude of securing his record-equalling seventh World Snooker Championship title.
This was a comprehensive world title triumph. O’Sullivan lost just one session throughout the entire tournament, and every match was won with a modicum of comfort. David Gilbert was swatted aside 10-5 in the first round, before 13-4 and 13-5 wins over Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire respectively earned him a semi-final against John Higgins.
Higgins has had O’Sullivan’s number in many of their recent meetings, but the Scot just didn’t get going this time, largely due to the strong performance of his opponent. O’Sullivan was all business, securing a 17-11 victory to book his place in yet another World Championship showpiece. Those who were online betting on skybet.com were certainly fancying his chances of lifting the title.
Then, facing another man O’Sullivan often struggles against in the form of Judd Trump, the 46-year-old once again roared into the lead. At the end of the first day of play, he had a 12-5 advantage, and many were pondering if Ronnie could wrap up the final with a session to spare. Trump battled back impressively to trail just 14-11 going into the last session, but O’Sullivan was not to be denied, running out an 18-13 victor. Cue the emotions.
There is a misconception around O’Sullivan that, due to his insouciant remarks about snooker and the tournaments he takes part in, he does not care about the sport, or indeed that he doesn’t devote much time to practicing and honing his craft. Many think that he plays on pure instinct, allowing the raw talent he is blessed with to shine through, but that is only half the story. The man known as ‘the Rocket’ adopts a precision-engineering approach to his game, practicing hard and tinkering in every area to give himself the best possible chance of success.
You can’t enjoy so much success over such a long period of time without being dedicated to constant improvement. O’Sullivan gives off a carefree attitude, but the passion was writ across his face as he celebrated his World Championship triumph with his family at the Crucible. You could tell that his whole career has been geared towards this moment — equalling Stephen Hendry’s total of seven world titles.
It’s incredible to think that it is 29 years since O’Sullivan won the UK Championship as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. To still be doing the business in the biggest tournaments three decades later gives an indication of just how special his talent is, but also how dedicated he has been to staying at the top.
O’Sullivan’s appreciation of things outside snooker — running, gym work, business ventures — means he has been able to compartmentalise his game, and not get bogged down in what he refers to as ‘snooker depression.’ The rewards have come, and although he has suffered some agonising defeats in finals over the last couple of seasons, this latest moment of glory has made it all worthwhile.