Ronnie O'Sullivan fuels doubt over snooker future

Ronnie O'Sullivan - Ronnie O'Sullivan fuels doubt over snooker future
Ronnie O'Sullivan is aiming to win his 41st ranking event title - Getty Images/Tai Chengzhe

Ronnie O’Sullivan has once again questioned his snooker future, claiming he is getting “no enjoyment” from playing despite his stellar recent results.

The World No1 has triumphed this season in the sport’s two biggest tournaments, the UK championships and the Masters, as well as winning the Shanghai Masters in China, and has also reached Friday’s World Grand Prix quarter-finals in Leicester.

A 4-3 win over China’s Zhou Yuelong sealed O’Sullivan’s last eight place but he could take little satisfaction from a performance which included breaks of 67, 107, 90 and 50.

“I’ve got to really consider whether I can carry on feeling how I’m feeling out there – I just don’t get any enjoyment from the way I’m hitting the ball,” said O’Sullivan.

“I feel like it’s just hard work, I haven’t a clue where the balls are going, and a lot of it’s just guess-work.”

Now 48, O’Sullivan admitted that his ongoing success – it is only four days since he beat Ali Carter 10-7 in the Masters final at Alexandra Palace – was actually making it more difficult for him to come to a decision about his long-term future.

“The worst thing is you’re winning bloody tournaments as well,” he said. “If I was getting pumped every round playinglike that it would be an easy decision to make. It’s been happening like this for 25 or 30 years, so it’s nothing new.

“It’s the only thing I’ve known and it’s hard not to do this because it’s my job, it’s all I know, so I’ve struggled through it. But I can’t accept bad cueing, I’d rather cue well and lose than cue awful and win tournaments. I get no satisfaction out of it, I really don’t.”

O’Sullivan has considered his future on multiple previous occasions, most notably in 2012-13 when he worked on a pig farm while stepping away from competitive snooker before staging an extraordinary comeback to retain his World Championships after playing no major matches for a year.

He has seemed to find a better balance in recent years, combining a select tournament schedule with exhibitions and interests away from snooker, but has appeared increasingly unhappy in recent months after facing disciplinary action over comments about exhibitions in China that are not part of the World Snooker Tour.

The WST is also reviewing his post-match outburst about Carter following a Masters final that drew record a combined 16.2 million television audience across BBC and Eurosport UK, an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year’s final without O’Sullivan.

Snooker’s most popular player will now face Gary Wilson in the last eight of the World Grand Prix. Defending champion Mark Allen was beaten 4-2 in the last 16 by China’s in-form Zhang Anda.

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