I've seen a lot of snooker in my life, probably too much, but I've rarely seen a more impressive sight than Ronnie O'Sullivan at his best.

He plays a seductive game with style and panache, at times spell binding, which can make what is a difficult sport look ridiculously easy.

But it only appears effortless because of all the effort he has put in.

O'Sullivan is often referred to as 'the most naturally talented player ever to pick up a cue.' This actually does him a disservice. It implies the game has always come easily to him. It implies he hasn't had to put the work in like everyone else.

His ambidexterity and quick thinking clearly suggests a natural aptitude for snooker but his success has been primarily due to sustained and purposeful practice at a young age.

As a boy, he had a full sized table in his house on which to practice. His father would arrange for leading amateurs and professionals to come and play him.

These are clear advantages to a rapid development in his sport. He's put the hours - no the years - in, unseen from the eyes of the public, and has got the rewards.

So how does Ali Carter stop him winning a fourth world title over the next two days?

The obvious answer is to pot more balls and win more frames. It won't be easy. O'Sullivan has never lost a world final and came to the Crucible this year looking focused, appearing calm and producing some superb spells of snooker.

In each of his four matches thus far he has conjured six frame bursts to pull away from his opponents. He has scored heavily but his safety has also been excellent. His discipline and patience has been exemplary.

Carter seems to have relied more and more on his tactical game, not pushing the boat out as much as in the past.

Players get unfair criticism from pundits who sometimes give the impression they have forgotten how hard championship snooker is.

If a player goes for a tough pot and misses they are accused of being reckless. If they close the shop they are accused of being negative.

Most players play the percentages but it's also about how confident they are feeling within themselves.

Carter has never beaten O'Sullivan in a televised match. A decade or so ago they practised together and Carter once beat him 18-2.

I think Carter's steel in Sheffield has been magnificent. He came into the tournament off the back of a bad season, his form affected by ill health, and so perhaps had lower expectations of himself than usual.

In his corner is Peter Ebdon, champion ten years ago, who seems a more than useful oracle with which to converse between sessions.

But Ebdon can't pot the balls for him. Carter is out there on his own, facing a fearsome force in the shape of O'Sullivan.

I wonder if O'Sullivan sees this as his last great hurrah in the sport. I hope not because he's clearly still good enough to have several more.

But he has already stated that the new packed calendar is not to his taste. He doesn't want to play every week. Last night, yet again, he floated the idea of retirement.

The speculation as to his future will doubtless begin on Monday night. Before that he has a world final to win, and Ali Carter has a formidable problem to solve. 


Anonymous said...

Let's hope its a great & entertaining final.

For various reasons, neither of this years finalists has been past QF in a major tournament since the Welsh Open in February, so one could argue that they are "fresher" than some of their colleagues who have played in the later stages of the three major tournaments since the Welsh.

But I guess this is a topic for Tuesday.

JIMO96 said...

How ironic that the 2 World Open last minute withdrawals find themselves in the World final. Were they "fresher"?

If so, then I think this will inspire more players to choose their own travel rota for forthcoming seasons, so that they arrive in Sheffield "fresh". Not good news for the global expansion, so Hearn will have to pull out a few tricks to encourage the big names to travel to all the overseas events. Holding the Crucible seedings back till after the China Open would be a start.

Personally, I can't support either player today, neither of them are to my taste. So I'm just hoping for a bit of drama, perhaps an 18-17?

I do hope that whatever happens, O'Sullivan listens to a bit of Barry Hearn wisdom: "....don't look over your shoulder, just do it! Or shut up about it!....."

Dorina said...

I don't see Ronnie as an underachiever. I think he is more of a downshifter and this is a good thing. I hope that he will see things that way and stop talking about retiring...
We will have an entertainig final and I expect a close match. Ali won't choke this time, he has Peter Ebdon's support and, more importantly, his magic bracelet. I'm a doctor and I've seen the power of a placebo so many times... So, with both players into the right mindset, I think this year trophy will go into the hands of the most skillful of the two.

A Romanian snooker fan

Ray said...

Couldn't agree more Dave. For all the natural ability Ronnie possesses he's still open to advice from the likes of Del Hill, Frank Adamson and Ray Reardon. Young players take note.

One of the truest things ever said is "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" (Thomas Edison)

Anonymous said...

David, these are well thought over words and even Rachel on the BBC referred to this blog between the second and third frame of the final.
( Mind that we've only chosen BBC because Eurosport isn't in on the first session, otherwise we'd prefer the comment over there )
btw. very strange first session, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Just a few thoughts on other things than the final: It's a pity that with the end of analogue satellite TV Eurosport International with its multiple sound channels also has gone. Why would anybody would have other than English commentary on such sport as British as Snooker if they had the chance to listen to knowledgeable people such as former players?
This leaves us outside the UK in a dire situation, you need high-speed internet to make use of Eurosport Player and that piece of software unfortunately is so flawed that it often provides Dutch or Polish commentary instead of the English channel selected.

Love the Trick Shot feature with Dominic and Mike; I think it means much to the viewers to be able to actually see the people they usually but can hear. So let us have Mike Smith and Joe Johnson at the Snooker table, that surely would make some fun!
Or how about a feature having a commentator walking the viewers through the venue to give a little more insight of what's behind the scenes - Eurosport's Tennis coverage is very successful in that area I believe and it might be a good feature to get more people interested in the sport.

Dzierzgul said...


You should consider yourself lucky you're getting Polish commentary on Eurosport. Przemek Kruk and RafaƂ Jewtuch are absolutely fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Rishi outside Ronnie's dressing room: "What's he doing in there, I can hear rattling?".

Jesus, Rishi, you're a guy, you should know better.

Anonymous said...

absolutely sick of this mans idle threats to retire.

if hes not headbutting people or asking for oral sex at press conferences he is talking rubbish.

Anonymous said...

perhaps ali should tell him if he gets beat hes going to take him on a plane. he might get that fever back again...


Hi David.

Stat Of The Day -

Today, is 6-5-2012. On 6-5-2002, Peter Ebdon, beat Stephen Hendry, 18-17, to win the world title. 10 years ago, to the day, today. It was the last professional event macth, that John Williams refereed, and the last Crucible final, to date, to go the full distance, in frames.

Another great day's play, in my view - A repeat of the 2008, world final.

In session 1, of the 2012 final, which started at 2pm. O'Sullivan .V. Carter - O'Sullivan was first out of the blocks. He won a long first frame, before winning frame 2, with a superb 117 break, to lead, 2-0. Carter replied well, winning the third frame, with an 84 break, and winning frame 4. 2-all, at the mid-session interval.

O'Sullivan won the 5th, 3-2. Carter won the 6th, 3-all. O;Sullivan won the 7th, with an amazing break, of 92, consiering the unpromising position that the snooker balls lay. Willie Thorne, in the B.B.C. commentary box, at the time, sai he thought O'Sullivan would do well to make 20, or above, from that position. He led, 4-3. In frme 8, Carter broke off. O'Sullivan made a long red, and a sublime 141 break. 5-3, to O'Sullivan, going into tonight's second session.

Session 2 - 7pm - Carter, 5-3 down made a break of 56, in frame 9, and wonit. 5-4. O'Sullivan won the next two frames, 7-4. Carter won the next. O'Sullivan led 7-5, at the mid-session interval. O'sSullivan won the next two frames cARTER HAVING CHANCES, BUT MISSING BLACK'S OFF-THE SPOT, IN EACH OF THESE FRAMS. 9-5, to O'Sullivan. Carter won the next. 9-6. O'Sullivan won the next. 10-6. A crucial carter fluke, enabled him to win frame 17.

10-7, to O'Sullivan, over-night, going into tomorrow afternoon's third session, and , as Clive Everton, calls, the 17th day, of this event "Day seventeen, of seventeen, in this great marathon of the mind."

O'Sullivan is favourite, in my mind. Carter, will not give upthough.

Tomorrow -

Session 3 - 2.30 pm.

Session 4 - 7.30 pm.

I can't wait.


Hi David. To follow on from my last comment, You're own title, to this piece, 'HOW DO YOU SLOVE A PROBLEM LIKE RONNIE?' , a great title. I think, only O'Sullivan himself, may know the answer, to that one. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

How do you deal with O’Sullivan?

Ask Higgins, Trump or Selby – those boys don’t have a problem dealing with him.

kildare cueman said...

Steve Davis is some man for changing his mind.
Last year John Higgins was the greatest ever. This year its Ronnie. A couple of years ago it was Ronnie as well.

Basically Steve, what your saying is that whoever is the best at the moment is the greatest ever.
Don't become another Willie Thorne with "best I've ever seen" every time you see something good.

Maybe hes just trying to wind up Hendry, who was sitting beside him at the time.

kildare cueman said...

How do you solve a problem like Ronnie?

I'd say nobody is keener to solve it than Barry Hearn. "How do I manage to get the world champion to play in more than half my events?"


Hi David.

Stat's Yes Stat's Of The Day -

Today, is 7-5-2012/ 11 years ago, to the day, today, on 7-5-2001, Ronnie O'Sullivan claimed his first world title, beating John Higgins, 18-14, in the final.

Today, on 7-5-2001, O'Sullivan claimed his 4th world title, beating Alister Carter, 18-11, in the final.

Great way to celebrate the 11th anniversary of his 1st world tilte, winning his 4th.

The Final - O'Sullivan .V. Carter - Session 3 - 2.30 pm. Carter needed a good start, 10-7 down. He had chances, but did not fully exploit them. O'Sullivan won the first 4 frames of this session, to lead, 14-7, at the mid-session interval.

Carter replied well. He won the next 3 frames in a row, the middle one of these, with a great 105 break. 14-10. O'Sullivan won frame 25, to lead, 15-10, going into tonight's 4th and final session.

4th and final session - 7.30 pm. O'Sullivan, 15-10 up, won the next frame, to lead, 16-10. Carter won the next. 16-11. O'Sullivan won the next 2 frames, to win, 18-11. He wins a fourth world title. Great to hear that he is not retiring, aswell.

Lovely to see Stephen Hendry, being introduced to the crowd, before the startof the final session, aswll.

I said i would be closer than 18-8, 4 years ago. It was. O'sullivan still came out on top though, 18-11.

A great event, as a whole, aswell, in my view. Also, I think, the documentary on Barry Hearn, was a great one, shown last night.

Apart from the fact that Clive Everton, was never in the B.B.C. commentary box, in my view, it was a great 2012 Betfred.Com World Professional Snooker Championship.

Anonymous said...

when i had a problem with my rubiks cube i used to bang it on the wall