Sport is a world of extremes. Defeat is the biggest calamity in the history of civilisation, victory the greatest achievement since the invention of the wheel.
There has been an extraordinary over reaction to Ronnie O’Sullivan’s progress towards a third world title, which he appears certain to land at the Crucible later today.
Let me say this from the start: Ronnie has played great snooker. Really good. In finishing off against Mark Williams and the second session against Stephen Hendry it was up there with the all time Crucible performances.
However, to compare him to Tiger Woods and Roger Federer is wrong. He has their talent but has not demonstrated their application or dedication to be a consistent winner.
The world title will be his third ranking event victory in three years. This is not the record of a dominant force.
Would Woods or Federer have played the kamikaze stuff O’Sullivan did at the China Open?
Rather, O’Sullivan is more a George Best or Paul Gascoigne: a genius whose flaws make him even more fascinating, even more attractive.
He can’t be placed above Stephen Hendry until he’s won more world titles. Yes, his maximum was superb but so was Ali Carter’s.
I’ve commentated on most of Ronnie’s matches this season and, in the main, he’s played like he did yesterday.
In other words, well enough to beat most players but, aside from a few occasions, not to the very high standards he sets himself.
This is his essential problem: he is striving for perfection and when he fails to find this it eats him up.
I don’t think he’ll derive much pleasure from winning the world title in this manner, which is a shame because he has given so many other people so much enjoyment.
Ronnie is the deserving champion this year but he hasn’t played any better than he did to win his other two worlds titles or any better than many of the other great champions have in previous years.
I hope he can enjoy his moment of victory but, alas, this can’t be guaranteed. It’s not the winning he likes so much as the fulfilment of snooker perfection.
Anything less won’t do, even if it is good enough to see off the best the game has to offer.