Rocket Wins Fourth World Crown
Ronnie O'Sullivan intends to play on after landing his fourth Betfred.com World Championship title - but he warned snooker chiefs they would have to treat him better in future.
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The 36-year-old from Chigwell demolished Ali Carter's Crucible hopes with an 18-11 victory in the final.
He was joined on the arena floor immediately after his triumph by his four-year-old son, also named Ronnie, and the pair savoured the triumph that O'Sullivan feared would never come in his darkest days.
But with Dr Steve Peters, a sports psychiatrist, having worked wonders over the past year in improving his star patient's mental state, the future could still be bright.
O'Sullivan will take a short break from the sport, but the plans to retire that he mooted on Saturday came to nothing.
He said: "I'm not saying I have retired.
"I'm saying family is the most important thing in my life.
"I work as hard as anyone in snooker and I just want to be treated fairly.
"That's up to the governing body to treat players right."
O'Sullivan repeated his claim that World Snooker are "blackmailing" players into appearing at the low-profile Players Tour Championship events, and he added: "I'm not going to hang around two years to wait for things to be fair.
"I'm having four, five, six months off and I'll assess the situation."
O'Sullivan's son, from a previous relationship, was picked up in his father's arms as the celebrations began.
"It's the best feeling," O'Sullivan said.
"I didn't think I'd have the opportunity. But it's so nice to have him here.
"He loves snooker. I'm trying to turn him but he's having none of it.
"It was great to have him here watching, I got emotional even before the match was over because it felt like just me and him in this whole arena.
"It didn't feel like there were people watching.
"I just felt this massive buzz and connection between me and him.
"It was the best feeling I've had in my entire life.
"To have close ones with me when I'm world champion is very special."
O'Sullivan paid fresh tribute to Dr Peters, the man who helped steer many of Britain's cyclists to Olympic glory in Beijing four years ago.
"If I was Manchester City I'd go and buy him," he said.
"Steve helped me understand my brain is a machine.
"Deep down I'd love to play snooker, but I just got too involved. Wrapped up in it. It's not when I'm playing, it's when I go home, I'm a nightmare to be around.
"I'm shut off from the world because I'm too wrapped up in trying to be perfect. It just made me realise you can't be perfect but as long as you give it your best that's all you can do.
"I've learnt a lot over the last 12 months.
"I'm not a better player. I've just given myself more of a chance."
The Chigwell cueman becomes the oldest champion since Ray Reardon, who at 45 landed his sixth title in 1978, and if it were any other player such a success might be considered one which could spur a late career flourish.
The concluding session saw Stephen Hendry, the man who retired on the tournament's middle Sunday, take the final bow of his 17 days in Sheffield before the finalists made their entrances.
There was a warm welcome for Carter, whose surprising venture to the final has taken in a stunning comeback over last year's shock merchant Judd Trump, a helping hand from Peter Ebdon, and gallons of carrot juice.
Carter believes the juice has helped him to stave off the effects of Crohn's disease which at the turn of the year had become so destabilising that he too considered quitting snooker.
Ebdon has had an impact on his game too, no doubt with tactical advice that helped him past Trump and Stephen Maguire, but in the final he was found lacking the attacking threat to trouble O'Sullivan.
When O'Sullivan made his entrance it was to a raucous reception, and the crowd's long-time favourite delivered the triumph so many of them craved.
The 32-year-old from Tiptree was only very briefly even on level terms though, O'Sullivan pulling away from 3-3 to take a lead he would never look like relinquishing.
O'Sullivan made three centuries in the match, including the 141 he registered on Sunday that enters the record books as the highest break in a World Championship final, and the dash to 101 in the opening session which was sparked by a silky smooth long red.
On Monday night, 15-10 ahead entering the final session, he began in the manner of a champion with a 70 break that meant Carter required eight of nine frames to achieve his title goal.
And it was soon all over, O'Sullivan polishing off his triumph with a sharp 61 break.
Carter said: "I'm just disappointed to lose. I didn't feel I played well in the final.
"Ronnie put me under all sorts of pressure. His safety game was unbelievable. I was just under it from the start."
Carter, 32, also believed fortune frowned on him at key stages in the contest. It was his second World Championship final, and his second loss to O'Sullivan after an 18-8 drubbing four years ago.
"I didn't get any form when I needed it," Carter said.
"But the better man won. He's a genius. It's the Ronnie O'Sullivan show, isn't it.
"I'm pleased for the game that he's carrying on playing. He's got so much more to give."
Ronnie O'Sullivan factfile:
1975: Born Wordsley, West Midlands, December 5.
1987: Wins his first pro-am tournament at the age of 12.
1991: Scores his first 147 aged 15.
1992: Turns professional.
1993: Becomes youngest winner of ranking tournament at 17, beating Stephen Hendry to win UK Championship.
1994: Wins British Open.
1995: Wins the Masters.
1996: Wins Asian Classic and German Open. Found guilty by snooker's governing body of assaulting an official at the World Championship and handed a two-year suspended sentence, a £20,000 fine and advised to donate £10,000 to charity.
1997: Wins UK Championship for second time. Compiles the fastest 147 on record in just five minutes 20 seconds during World Championship win over Mick Price.
1998: Wins Scottish Masters. Tests positive for marijuana after winning the Irish Masters and is later stripped of the title.
1999: Wins China Open.
2000: Makes maximum breaks in Grand Prix and Scottish Masters, winning the latter.
2001: Wins Champions Cup, Masters, China Open, Irish Masters and his first World Championship - beating John Higgins 18-14 - before crushing Ken Doherty 10-1 in UK Championship final in York.
2002: Retains UK Championship title but fails to retain world title, losing to Hendry in the semi-finals.
2003: Wins Scottish Masters, European Open and Irish Masters but suffers a 10-6 first-round defeat at the World Championship to Marco Fu despite recording his second maximum break at the Crucible.
2004: February - Loses 10-9 to Paul Hunter in the final of the Masters.
May - Beats Graeme Dott 18-8 at the Crucible to take second World Championship.
October - Wins Grand Prix.
2005: After winning the Masters, Welsh Open and Irish Masters, fails to defend his World Championship title when losing to Peter Ebdon in quarter-finals after being 8-2 ahead. Claims in his post-match press conference that he will take a year off from the sport. But he plays in every tournament of the 2005-06 campaign except the Malta Cup.
December - Loses 9-8 to Mark King in first round of the UK Championship, sitting with a towel on his head while his opponent is at the table.
2006: April - Loses 17-11 to eventual champion Graeme Dott in World Championship semi-finals and hands his cue to a member of the audience straight afterwards.
August - Beats Dominic Dale 6-0 in 53 minutes in the Northern Ireland Trophy, setting a record for the fastest ever win in a best-of-11-frame match.
December 14 - Walks out of his UK Championship quarter-final with Hendry in York mid-frame when 4-1 down. He is later fined £20,000 and docked 900 ranking points.
2007: January - Snubs the media after first-round Masters win over Ali Carter but thrashes Ding Junhui 10-3 in the final to win his third Wembley crown.
October - Gives only one-word answers to the media following a clash with Marco Fu.
December - Becomes the first player to score 147s in successive tournaments after compiling a maximum in the deciding frame of his UK Championship semi-final against Mark Selby. O'Sullivan had also scored one at the previous month's Northern Ireland trophy. Goes on to crush Stephen Maguire 10-2 in the final to claim his fourth UK Championship.
2008: March - In a China Open press conference, O'Sullivan makes lewd comments and brandishes a microphone suggestively. He later apologises for his behaviour but is fined and docked ranking points.
April - Hits his third Crucible 147 in World Championship second-round win over Mark Williams, becoming the first player to compile nine maximums in tournament play.
May 5 - Beats Ali Carter 18-8 to win his third World Championship.
December 7 - Says he expects to retire in the next five years.
2009: January 12 - Accuses snooker of being on a downward spiral, but wins the Masters despite smashing up his cue the day before the tournament.
September 13 - Eases to a 22nd ranking title victory after a 10-5 victory over Liang Wenbo in the final of the Shanghai Masters.
2010: September 3 - Snubs the defence of his Shanghai title.
September 20: Pots red against Mark King at the World Open and then asks referee Jan Verhaas what the maximum break prize is. The answer is nothing and O'Sullivan duly clears to 140 before having to be persuaded to pot the final black.
2011: August - Records the 11th 147 of his career - a snooker record - at the Paul Hunter classic.
October: Courts controversy by claiming he is being "raped" and "blackmailed" by the sport, comments which he later apologises for.
December: Exits the UK Championships to Judd Trump and claims to once again be considering retirement.
2012: February 5 - In danger of losing his top-16 ranking, O'Sullivan comes from the brink of a first-round exit to win the German Masters with a victory over Stephen Maguire.
May 7: Wins his fourth World Championship title with an 18-11 win over Ali Carter at Sheffield's Crucible.