Ronnie O’Sullivan tonight became the world champion for the fourth time in his illustrious career following an 18-11 triumph over Ali Carter.
It’s the second time that the English pair have met with snooker’s holy grail at stake and, while Carter enjoyed claiming three more frames than in 2008, the result was always inevitably going to be the same.
O’Sullivan has produced arguably the best snooker of his career in the last fortnight and it is unlikely that any player would have been able to stop him.
In fact, his route to glory of Peter Ebdon, Mark Williams, Neil Robertson, Matthew Stevens and Carter is probably the most impressive sequence of results ever to become the champion at the Crucible.
The fact of the matter remains, despite competition from the likes of John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, when the ‘Rocket’ is at the peak of his powers there is nobody on the planet that is able to live with him.
O’Sullivan might have been slightly better in amongst the balls when he won his first title and one could debate whether or not he boasted a greater tactical awareness for his second hurrah in 2004, but rarely, if ever, has he mixed the two most important aspects of the game together with such poise and panache as he has done in the last 17 days.
Indeed, the temperament displayed by O’Sullivan throughout this tournament has never been equalled as he appears content both in himself as a player, a man and a father.
While never concise regarding the inevitable retirement chatter that surrounds him, O’Sullivan at least hinted that we would get to see him grace the baize again in the future – but perhaps not until after a well-deserved long break.
Many sceptics will be quick to chastise the 36 year-old, becoming the oldest player since Dennis Taylor in 1985 to win the Worlds, for his continuing threats and retractions on quitting but I stand by what I said in my previous post that this one was substantially more genuine and possible.
And I’ll follow that up by saying that it is great news he has ultimately decided to carry on.
Snooker would be fine as a sport, an entertainment and a business without Ronnie O’Sullivan but it would certainly miss his charisma, his enigma and his talent.
Anyone who challenges that is either a liar or an idiot…or simply doesn’t understand the importance of someone like Ronnie to any sport.
With a lot more tournaments being played overseas in the coming seasons, it is likely that the former world no1 will never return to that position in the rankings – at least until the money list order of merit comes into effect – and that is shame.
However, if that is the sacrifice that has to be made then so be it. He will still travel to events in Europe and China, but just not all of them. His choice, let him make it.
Anyone watching the scenes following his victory tonight will realise that his family is of the utmost importance to him and therefore it is simply inconceivable to spend 50 weeks at tournaments during a campaign like the journey some of his younger peers will be embarking on in June.
Let’s assume, tentatively, that Ronnie stays around for a while longer then, in short stints. Can he equal the now retired Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world crowns?
In short, no. It will be very difficult to produce this high standard at the right time every year but I’d say he’ll be looking for at least one more to really separate himself from the chasing pack – along with Higgins of course.
A word on Ali Carter. After such a dismal season it was a superb effort to reach his second world final and his comeback against Judd Trump in the second round will live long in the memory.
He shouldn’t feel too despondent. Nobody would have beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan in this year’s championship.