Published On: Fri, Apr 12th, 2024

Ronnie O’Sullivan under ‘added strain’ for World Snooker Championship as Rocket warned | Other | Sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been sent a warning ahead of this month’s World Championships, with John Virgo claiming The Rocket has to ‘be at his best’ to win the tournament. O’Sullivan enters the competition as the bookies’ favourite, but Virgo doesn’t believe victory at the Crucible is already a foregone conclusion.

As the world No.1, it’s easy to see why O’Sullivan is being tipped for World Championship glory in Sheffield. Victory at this year’s event will see him land an eighth title, meaning he’ll also become the record world champion at the same time. History is on the line for O’Sullivan, but Virgo doesn’t expect the 48-year-old to have it all his own way.

Speaking to The Metro, the legendary commentator said: “It’s hard to look past Ronnie, as he’s proved in the UK and the Masters, on the big occasion he does really produce. He’ll be a little bit disappointed after his Tour Championship defeat. Very reminiscent of when he lost to Luca Brecel in last year’s World Championship.”

The World Championships favourite was run ragged by Mark Williams in last week’s Tour Championship final, with O’Sullivan dropping seven consecutive frames to the eventual winner. And it’s because of those occasional fragilities in his game that Virgo claims O’Sullivan’s competitors could spring a surprise at the Crucible.

“So for those people who think Ronnie’s only got to turn up and if he puts his mind to it he wins, that’s so far from the truth. He’s got to be at his best. Ronnie will know that, but it’ll be a shock to the system, losing as he did.”

Few will argue against O’Sullivan’s status as the greatest snooker player of all time, but becoming the outright holder of the most World Championship wins should silence any remaining doubters. However, Virgo mooted the prospect of achieving that could add extra pressure on O’Sullivan ahead of the competition.

“Ronnie’s entitled to be favourite, no one questions his ability, but as I say he’s got to put that last defeat out of his mind. And of course he’s got the added pressure of looking for the modern day record of eight world titles.”

He added: “So that puts him under a little bit more strain than he would normally be under. But he’s coped with things like that before, so I expect him to put up a good show.”

O’Sullivan’s pursuit of a record-breaking eighth title begins in Sheffield on Wednesday 24th April, with The Rocket set to be paired against a qualifier for his Round One opener.

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