Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he is a snooker fake that doesn’t care about his results and should no longer be playing. The Rocket is bidding this year to extend his own record tally of seven successes at the Cazoo UK Championship in York. World No1 and reigning and seven-time world champion O’Sullivan beat Wales’ Matthew Stevens 6-2 yesterday in front of a raucous crowd at the Barbican Centre.
But after admitting he felt flat O’Sullivan dubbed himself an “impostor” and “unbreakable” – since even a crushing defeat would leave him unruffled and just wanting to go and grab a beer.
O’Sullivan said: “I shouldn’t even be playing really by rights at my age if you look at Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry and those guys. So I don’t take it too seriously – I find it all quite funny really. I have a bit of an impostor syndrome. I felt happier when I had that run of losing five finals because that felt right.
“But when I started winning tournaments again I didn’t really feel I deserved it or played well enough. It felt like a plot to allow me to do it, and I felt like a fake. When I won the worlds again in May I didn’t feel great about it because it put me in that place again where I was questioning myself.
“It maybe is difficult to rest after the last world title – I am feeling flat to be honest with you and don’t want to play snooker at the moment. I don’t play much snooker, and really don’t care.
“Basically I mainly keep coming because it’s something to do, I had a year out that timne and I got bored working on the pig farm. I listen to my body and listen to my mind. I apply myself mentally well in matches, but whether I play good or bad I don’t really care.
“I could get beat 6-0 and still have a good time in York. I am under no pressure at all so every match is like practice even if it is not easy. I have made my way in such a way that this is so insignificant – it’s all a bonus.
“I am unbreakable really, because if I got beat 10-0 I’d come off and be ‘Lovely, shall we go for a drink?’ That’s how we should all be, people take sport too seriously. Coming down the stairs with the crowd doesn’t really get the juices flowing, I don’t get excited like I used to but I am here to do a job.
“It’s nice to get a few oohs and aahs from a crowd, that’s a good feeling because you know when you have played a good shot by the response.”
The arena set-up has been jazzed up at the UK this year, recapturing some of its lost prestige as the first major of the season. And O’Sullivan, who has been ultra-critical of venues in the past, added: “We have got used to four tables and 128 players and all that so you come here and it’s like ‘Don’t spoil me’.
“Unless they are going to keep this level all the time and not go back to what it was like before. I mean having a tournament like this every now and again is not good enough for me. If every one of them was like this, great. If not, I’d almost rather they were all just like they were before.”
Stevens said: “I had chances in the match but if you don’t take them against Ronnie – especially when he is playing like that – than you are not going to win.”