Ronnie O'Sullivan exclusive interview ahead of the Masters snooker 2021

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump have become rivals on the table

Snooker Exclusive: Ronnie O'Sullivan lays down the gauntlet to Judd Trump.

  • Will Jennings

Published prior to positive coronavirus tests for Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski; both out of the Masters

Ronnie O'Sullivan has piled the pressure on Judd Trump and told the world No.1 – if you don’t win 70 ranking event titles, you’ve underachieved.

The six-time world champion has watched from the sidelines this season as Trump romped to English Open, Northern Ireland Open and World Grand Prix glory.

That 2020-21 hat-trick took the ‘Juddernaut’ to 20 ranking event titles but O’Sullivan, who is yet to taste silverware this term, still stands tall on a record 37.

Trump will face world No.13 David Gilbert in the first round of the Masters on Sunday and the Rocket, who will shoot for an eighth tournament title in Milton Keynes, told Trump it’s time to cash in on the Buckinghamshire baize.

Ronnie O'Sullivan Exclusive Masters Interview

The 45-year-old, who plays 2011 champion Ding Junhui on Wednesday, said: “With the amount of tournaments that are around today, I think [Judd’s] got to be looking at 60 to 70 ranking event titles.

“When [Stephen] Hendry was doing it and I was doing it, we might have played ten ranking events, but I think Judd is playing 20 ranking events [a season].

“If Hendry did 36 ranking events and I did 37, you’d probably have to say he’s got to be looking to at least make 60 or 65. If he was to get to 70 or 75 then pro rata, you’d have to say that’s the greatest record of all-time.

“You can only go on averages now, because there are so many more ranking events than there were before. If you’ve only got ten ranking events to play, if you won two or three, that was good. Now, if you’ve got 20, the new two and three is probably four, five and six ranking events in a year.

“The only thing in snooker that’s constant are the three majors. You’d probably want to be looking at getting to maybe [Steve] Davis’ level, or Hendry’s – 15, 16, 17, 18 majors. Obviously, the icing on the cake would be to beat my record of 20, which he’s capable of.”

The Masters was due to be held in front of 1000 fans per session at Alexandra Palace but a surge in coronavirus cases means the tournament has been moved to Milton Keynes.

The behind closed doors, bio-secure Marshall Arena has become snooker’s spiritual home this season and has hosted every ranking event of the campaign so far.

Trump, 31, soared to a record six ranking event titles last season but watched O’Sullivan, a 20-time combined winner of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters, scoop the big one at the Crucible in the summer.

The world No.3 captured hearts with a sixth World Championship crown after defending champion Trump was dumped out by eventual finalist Kyren Wilson in the last eight.

The Bristol potter is one of the few players to boast a positive record against O’Sullivan, beating him on 15 of the 28 occasions they’ve done battle on the baize.

Ronnie O'Sullivan against Judd Trump in the Northern Ireland Open final

O’Sullivan enjoyed a similar level of potting dominance back in 2012 but has admitted to feeling fed up with having to ‘live out of a suitcase’.

Unlike O’Sullivan, Trump is yet to start a family and the Rocket reckons maintaining a sole focus on snooker can keep him lifting trophies long into the future.

“He’s the all-round player and he said it the other day – ‘I can’t get any better and I just want to try and maintain this for as long as I can’,” added O’Sullivan.

“You get to that point where you think ‘I can’t get any better and I just have to manage my schedule’.

“I probably didn’t manage that – I had a lot of distractions off the table which robbed me of seven, eight or nine years where I couldn’t focus totally on snooker.

“If you’re enjoying it, then it’s fine. For me, it was more like I had kids and a family and after being on the road for so long, I just felt bad and thought ‘I really need to be home with them.’

“Unless you’ve got that, then why not live out of a suitcase? Why not travel from tournament to tournament? You’re getting paid well and you’re loving what you’re doing.”

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