Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted that he has been finding it difficult to avoid going on runs between matches at the World Snooker Championship after making light work of Hossein Vafaei in round two on Saturday afternoon. The Rocket is a keen runner in his spare time and has made no secret of his love for the hobby over the years, although he is currently unable to go out for his usual runs as he continues to recover from an illness.
O’Sullivan looked tired and drained throughout his first-round victory over Pang Junxu earlier this week and later revealed that he was feeling under the weather, although it did not show on Saturday as he produced a brilliant showing to breeze past Vafaei with a session to spare. He went on to reveal after the match that although he is making a quick recovery, he remains frustrated about being unable to run after being banned from doing so by his psychologist Steve Peters.
“I feel a lot better,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport. “I still can’t run though, which is irritating because that’s my first love, my first passion. Whenever I come to a tournament and I run, it’s a holiday. That’s the most important thing and I get to play snooker as well.
“That’s a little bit of a thing, but I just have to suck it up and find other ways of entertaining myself and keeping myself occupied. I’m not allowed to do any exercise, I’ve been told by Steve Peters I asked when I could exercise and he said I can’t with about 20 exclamation marks in a text message.
“I won’t do that, so I have to take his advice sometimes. I’m doing some art while I’m here, one of my other interests, and I’m really enjoying that so it’s keeping me busy.”
O’Sullivan was at his brilliant best against Vafaei as he reeled off seven consecutive breaks of 50 or more, including two centuries, to set up a World Snooker Championship quarter-final meeting with Luca Brecel at the Crucible on Tuesday. He went on to declare that he was not overly interested in the prospect of a last-eight match-up with his Belgian opponent, with the Rocket setting his sights firmly on reaching the latter stages of the tournament in his bid to secure a record-breaking eighth world title.
“Quarter-finals don’t excite me,” added The Rocket. “This tournament is all about winning or nothing. There’s no in between. This, the Masters, the UK Championships – the three juicy tournaments, big crowds, great venues – brings the best out of the great players.
“I get super excited for that. The other tournaments less so, it’s very hard. I don’t ever monitor my career on those tournaments. It’s just a good bit of match practice and keeps the rust off.”
It remains to be seen how O’Sullivan will fare in his efforts to surpass Stephen Hendry’s all-time benchmark over the coming days as he looks to strengthen his claim to go down as the greatest snooker player in the history of the sport. He will undoubtedly need to perform at his very highest level in order to stand the best chance of defending the crown he won for the seventh time last year, with the likes of Mark Selby and John Higgins aiming to claim the grand prize ahead of O’Sullivan at the Crucible this month.