Ronnie O'Sullivan
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Ronnie O’Sullivan – ‘I’d have swapped a UK or Masters for another title in China’

The 2024 World Snooker Championship commences on Saturday morning with Ronnie O’Sullivan the favourite for the title again.

The Rocket comes to Sheffield on the back of an excellent season in which he has won five big trophies, including the UK Championship and the Masters.

If he were to land what would be a record eighth World Championship crown at the Crucible Theatre this year, O’Sullivan would become only the fourth player in history to capture all three Triple Crown titles in the same campaign.

Only Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, and Mark Williams have achieved the feat in the past.

But while O’Sullivan acknowledged the fact that he has performed well this term, he admits that he would have preferred to have experienced more success in China.

The 48 year-old kick started his silverware-laden season with a victory in the Shanghai Masters last September.

Yet one semi-final and two quarter-final appearances were the best he could do in the three Chinese ranking events.

“Obviously the majors – the Masters and the UK Championships and the World Championships – that’s what everyone says are the important tournaments,” Ronnie O’Sullivan told the World Snooker Tour on Friday.

“I get that, but actually my goal at the start of the season was to try and really win as many tournaments in China as I could.”

“I managed to win one. I would have liked to have converted a couple more. I would have swapped a UK or Masters to have won another tournament in China.

“That’s where I really wanted to do well. But it’s been a good season. I didn’t really particularly have an aim to win or what was going to happen. You just play.

“Once you start to win, it becomes a bit of a habit. I’ve always had good seasons. Even when I got to five finals (and lost), it was still a mammoth effort to get to five finals.

“I didn’t convert any of them, but I was only disappointed to lose in a couple. It was still a really good season, I was five matches away from winning five tournaments.

“I don’t really look at my seasons like that was a good one or that was a bad one.

“As long as I’m consistent, as long as I’m solid, as long as I’m in the running, the main thing is to enjoy it. I think enjoyment comes from feeling comfortable with your game.

“As long as that’s happening, I don’t really worry about victories and stuff.”

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O’Sullivan doesn’t get his 2024 Crucible campaign under way until Wednesday, when he’ll take on Jackson Page in the first round.

Having first made his appearance in the tournament all the way back in 1993, the world number one knows that the early rounds are often simply about staying in the hunt ahead of sterner tests towards the end.

“You get used to it,” Ronnie O’Sullivan said. “It hasn’t even started yet, but you just think if you are here after seven or eight days, then it’s going to get tough.”

“Just be prepared for it and try and stay in it. It’s a bit like getting to the Grand National and falling at the first hurdle.

“You want to be there at the last little bit if you can, then you think you’ve got a squeak now. That’s all you can do.

“There’s so much matches going on, so much snooker to be played that you can’t start thinking too far ahead.

“Every match and every session you play in this venue is terrifying in many ways. You go out there and put yourself through it.

“It’s such a small venue, such an intimate venue. The crowd are on top of you. The atmosphere, you can feel it even in the dressing rooms.

“That all takes its toll on you over a period of time. Is it enjoyable? Sometimes. When you’re out there and it’s going great, you get into a rhythm with it.

“Would I want to do it every week for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. I need a few best of sevens. A few quick, dusty ones. No circus, no media, not much interest.

“I wouldn’t want to do it all the time. But once a year I get geared up for it, and you give it a go.”

2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.

Featured photo credit: WST

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