DEFENDING world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan says he has learnt how to control the mental pressure associated with the Crucible as he bids to win his sixth World Championship title.
O’Sullivan will begin his title defence on Saturday when he faces first round opponent Robin Hull in what will be like an FA Cup tie with the Finland potter being the lowest ranked player in the competition – currently 122nd in the latest world rankings.
The 38-year-old has won snooker’s biggest event for the past two years and will join only Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry from the modern era to win the big prize years three on the spin should he once again go all the way over the course of the next fortnight.
Despite being arguably the most talented snooker player the world has ever seen, O’Sullivan has had his moments in the past struggling with depression and the mental side of the game.
But after working on things, The Rocket has been back to his best in recent years – especially this season landing The Masters, Champion of Champions and the Welsh Open all in convincing fashion in addition to his world titles in 2012 and 2013.
“I’m quite calm and relaxed about it,” he told TalkSport presenter Andy Goldstein during an interview on The Sports Bar show this week.
“I’m looking forward to it, I know what’s in store for me and I’m prepared for it as there will be mixed emotions throughout the tournament but the main thing is to stay calm and relaxed and try to enjoy it.
“I’ve learnt from the past it is not going to help me from over analysing how I am playing at the moment and not worrying about if I lose in the first round.
“All I can do is just go out there and if it is all good on the day then great but worrying beforehand is just going to burn up nervous energy which is not going to happen.
“I’ve learnt not to be up and down which I used to be and remain stable which is good.”
The man who has helped the current five-times world champion to keep mentally in control on and off the table is psychologist Dr Steve Peters who has also been working with Liverpool Football Club as they bid to win an historic first Premier League title.
And O’Sullivan said Liverpool would not be at the top of the table if it was not for the work of his trusted aide.
“I’m not surprised Liverpool have done so well and I think any team or sport he (Dr Peters) would get into he would make them champions because that’s how good the guy is,” he added.
O’Sullivan’s first round match will be screened live on BBC Two and Eurosport from 10am on Saturday (April 19).