O'Sullivan hails 'gladiator' mindset after overcoming Gilbert

·2-min read
Ronnie O'Sullivan is targeting a seventh World title
Ronnie O'Sullivan is targeting a seventh World title

Ronnie O’Sullivan drew on a ‘gladiator’ mindset to overcome David Gilbert 10-5 in the first round of the World Snooker Championship, writes Ben Parsons.

O’Sullivan, 46, won 10 out of 12 frames after falling 3-0 behind to stay on course for a record-equalling seventh Crucible crown.

The Rocket made high breaks of 122, 109 and 104 in a comfortable victory to match Stephen Hendry’s mountainous tally of 70 wins at the home of snooker.

He faces Mark Allen or Scott Donaldson next in a last 16 match that gets underway on Friday.

A relaxed O’Sullivan said: "I am out there playing, enjoying it and just trying to compete.

“It is like Gladiator. Russell Crowe has a hole in his arm and knows he is going to die but you just have to find a way. That is what winners and gladiators do.

“I drew on all my experience and skills, everything I’ve learned.”

Scottish legend Hendry’s seven world titles is the last significant snooker record that eludes O’Sullivan.

His 30th appearance at the Crucible matches a feat achieved by his own inspiration Steve Davies.

But O’Sullivan has his eye only on the sport's prestigious Triple Crown events as he continues to make his mark on the history books.

“I want to be a winner and I want to be a champion,” he added.

"The important records are the majors. I don’t care about centuries or maximums. I just care about the majors.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on in this game and they’re the important tournaments.

“All the others I’m not really interested in and they’re just sharpeners to keep you busy.”

O’Sullivan returned to no.1 in the world rankings for the fifth time in his distinguished career before arriving in Sheffield for his latest world title tilt.

Despite his rise back to the summit, O'Sullivan believes he is past his prime in a brutal admission about his current standard.

He said: “I’m nowhere near the player I was. I’m knocking on 50, I’m a grandad.

“When I was 30-35, I didn’t realise how strong and how good I was, I took it for granted.

“I didn’t really miss much but now I make a few too many mistakes but it’s alright.

“I still compete and am hanging around even though I’m 70% of the player I used to be.”

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