Ronnie O’Sullivan has shrugged off the prospect of equalling Stephen Hendry’s report of seven world snooker titles on the eve of his first-round match in opposition to former semi-finalist David Gilbert on the Crucible.
Newly reinstalled on the prime of the world rankings on the age of 46, six-time champion O’Sullivan maintains he has little interest in making extra historical past within the sport, insisting: “Seven, eight, 9, 10 – they’re simply numbers to me.
“I don’t get tied into all these data and stuff that everybody likes to speak about. Snooker is the least vital factor in my life but it surely’s one thing I love to do. I’m not going to show (one other) one down, put it that means.”
O’Sullivan, who pulled stage with Steve Davis within the report books when he clinched his most up-to-date crown in 2020, has been dealt the hardest doable opener in opposition to Gilbert, the world quantity 19 who reached the semi-finals in 2019, and who battled via two rounds of qualifying.
And O’Sullivan predicted the standard of this season’s qualifiers – which additionally embody former UK champion Stephen Maguire and rising Iranian star Hossein Vafaei, might create “carnage” among the many sport’s greatest names.
“I feel anybody can win the match this 12 months as a result of there are such a lot of good gamers,” added O’Sullivan.
“I feel the primary spherical goes to be like Method One going into the primary nook. It’s going to be carnage. There can be numerous seeds going, assured.
“Each first spherical match I’ve performed in Sheffield has been onerous. It’s in all probability the toughest match you play all 12 months. It will get simpler after the primary match, so the longer I keep within the extra harmful I’ll in all probability be.
“I don’t actually have any expectations. I’m going to be coming right here for 18 days it doesn’t matter what, and I’m going to get pleasure from myself. If I’m nonetheless within the match, nice. If I’m not, it would nonetheless be nice – I’m not too apprehensive.”
O’Sullivan enters the match on the again of a strong marketing campaign which yielded one title on the World Grand Prix this 12 months and having pushed Neil Robertson to a closing body defeat in an epic Tour Championship semi-final in Llandudno earlier this month.
O’Sullivan has constantly poured plaudits upon the Australian, who involves the Crucible on the again of a best-ever season with 4 rating titles, however Robertson admitted his dislike for the long-form format having didn’t return to the ultimate since his solitary win in 2010.
Robertson, who begins his marketing campaign on Tuesday in opposition to Ashley Hugill, mentioned: “Ronnie does like deflecting consideration away from himself and making everybody else favorite, however there’s a large quantity of mutual respect.
“We had some of the excellent matches of all time within the semi-finals of the Tour Championship and I’d like to play him within the one-table set-up right here, however we’ve each received a protracted method to go.
“I’ve had my finest ever season no matter occurs, so I come right here with numerous optimism. I’m snug with being the favorite and the main target for me this 12 months is to play my model of snooker, which is attacking and making huge breaks.”
Defending champion Mark Selby begins his quest for a fifth world title on Saturday morning in opposition to qualifier Jamie Jones, whereas UK champion Zhao Xintong additionally will get his maiden marketing campaign as a seed underway in opposition to Jamie Clarke.
O’Sullivan begins on Saturday afternoon, as does former finalist Barry Hawkins in opposition to Jackson Web page, earlier than Selby and Jones conclude their encounter in Saturday’s night session. Shaun Murphy and Stephen Maguire additionally get their first spherical match below means.