Monday, 6 May 2013

A master at work

Ronnie O'Sullivan's capture of a fifth world title will surely rank as one of his finest moments in the game.

Having played just one competitive match since he won the World Championship a year ago, the Rocket came back and did it all again when many said he couldn't.

He ripped through the field with relative ease and proved once again that he is the best out there and still the man to beat.
Picture by Monique Limbos

His 18-12 victory against Barry Hawkins in the final was superb. He scored a record six centuries in a World Championship final, became the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1996 to successfully defend the sport's premier title and became the record century maker ever at the Crucible.

These are records deserving to a player of such class.

O'Sullivan plays the game like no one else. At his best, he makes a ridciculously difficult game look effortless and plays to a standard many can only dream of.

This victory will surely rank right up there alongside the best of his achievements on the green baize. Having spent a year away from the challenges of competitive snooker, it was difficult to predict exactly how O'Sullivan would cope.

Many people said he would be too ring rusty to lift the title again but, in the end, he just picked up where he left off and was actually the freshest of them all as he bulldozed his way to triumph.

This was a sensational return even by O'Sullivan's lofty standards. It will go down as one of the best sporting feats in my lifetime. It proves the Rocket really is a master of our sport: a gift to the game and a born genius.

It's difficult to judge whether O'Sullivan played as well as he ever has at the Crucible but the nature of the win probably makes it his most special for the outsiders looking in.

His break building throughout the tournament was exceptional but it was his terrific matchplay that mastered the field. He looked 100 per cent focused, answered every question he was asked and never lost his discipline.

The work Ronnie has done alongside Dr Steve Peters was shining through at every turn. In this kind of form and with this level of application, O'Sullivan is close to unplayable. In fact, I think only Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis or John Higgins in their pomp could make a fist of a fight with O'Sullivan in this mood.

Saying that, Hawkins did a fine job. He was excellent. He gave everything he had in his first Crucible final and played well enough to beat almost anyone else in the game. He just came up against a force of nature over the two days.

Barry has done himself proud and won plenty of hearts. He is living proof of what can be achieved with a little bit of self belief. He showed what a fine player he is and what great fighting attributes he has in his locker.

He has enjoyed an awesome fortnight beating world number one Mark Selby, Chinese number one Ding Junhui and taking the one table format well in his stride. His performance rubbishes any talk of burnout. Barry has played more than 100 games this season but still saved his best for last on the biggest stage there is. It is easy to feel tired and run down playing in so many tournaments, but this shouldn't be used as an excuse.

It is up to the players themselves to manage their playing schedule and ensure they can produce their best at the most important events. But Barry has proved that burnout only comes into play when you're not playing well. When things are going well, you can play, play and play some more.

What is next for O'Sullivan remains unclear but for now, we should enjoy and marvel at his greatness. He has put on a great show here in Sheffield and is well worth his title.

Well played Ronnie. You've done it again.