Ronnie O'Sullivan speaks of relaxed approach after beating Yuan Sijun in the English Open

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O'Sullivan

As the self-proclaimed greatest snooker player of all time, Ronnie O’Sullivan doesn’t even care how well he plays any more.

For some time the Rocket has offered a languid approach to competition but his laissez-faire attitude seems to be reaching a whole new level at this week’s 19.com English Open.

The Rocket stuttered to a 4-3 win over unfancied Jamie O’Neill in his opener, and cut a similarly disinterested figure throughout his second round clash with Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun, another game that required a decider.

Yuan raced into a 2-0 lead with a break of 79 in the first frame, and followed up with a ton to put O’Sullivan’s prospects in West Sussex on the line.

The 2017 champion responded to half the deficit, but surrendered the fourth before posting three half-centuries to creep into the next round.

And while O’Sullivan acknowledged the talent his young opponent showcased at the table, he admitted he was playing with the freedom of not being too hung-up about the result.

“I was prepared to lose but to win is a bonus,” he said. “Whatever happens this week is good for me so I was quite relaxed out there.

“Yuan did really well. He’s a great talent and a fantastic player who’s capable of winning many, many tournaments so it was tough at times out there.

“I’m probably the best snooker player that’s ever lived and I don’t judge what I do anymore. I just go out there and play, and whatever happens is win-win.”

With a hectic winter schedule on the horizon, O’Sullivan outlined how he identifies the tournament in Crawley as an ideal opportunity to prepare for some of the biggest competitions in the sport.

But while many of snooker’s main stars will be targeting success at the Triple Crown events – which begin with the UK Championship next month – the 43-year-old insisted he is largely focused on events in China.

He said: “There are certain tournaments that I prioritise and I’m looking forward to going to Yushan at the end of the month because I enjoy the World Open.

“The most famous events aren’t on my radar too much anymore; I’m more interested in going over to China. I prefer the tournaments and I’ve got some great friends and relationships out there.

“So for me now I’ll go back and practice ahead of the next round in this tournament because I’m focused on getting my head down and getting into the best shape possible ahead of the rest of the season.”


Watch the English Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport Player with studio analysis from Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White

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