First News

…BUT ROCKET RON­NIE TAKES AIM AT NEXT GEN­ER­A­TION

- Sports · Championship · Sheffield · Ding Junhui · Mark Williams · Mark Williams

SNOOKER leg­end Ron­nie O’Sul­li­van has crit­i­cised the stan­dard of play among young up-and-com­ing play­ers, say­ing he would have to “lose an arm and a leg to fall out of the top 50”.

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary in­ter­view given af­ter his vic­tory over Ding Jun­hui, Ron­nie said: “If you look at the younger play­ers com­ing through, they are not that good re­ally. Most of them would do well as half-de­cent am­a­teurs, not even am­a­teurs. They are so bad.”

He be­lieves that is why play­ers such as him­self and Mark Wil­liams – who both turned pro­fes­sional in 1992 – are still dom­i­nat­ing the sport.

“That is why we are still hov­er­ing around, be­cause of how poor it is down that end,” he said.

How­ever, his com­ments have been crit­i­cised by for­mer world cham­pion Ken Do­herty, who ar­gued that the stan­dard is “as high as ever”.

“It may be a bit tongue in cheek, but it is not nice,” he said.

“I think it is a bit deroga­tory [of­fen­sive]”.

Ron­nie – who is nick­named ‘The Rocket’ due to his fast play­ing style – is look­ing to win his sixth World Cham­pi­onship tro­phy in Sh­effield this year. How­ever, this tour­na­ment is un­like any he has been in be­fore, with no spec­ta­tors in the Cru­cible due to the COVID-19 pan­demic – and he hasn’t been en­joy­ing the un­usual at­mos­phere.

“It is like play­ing in a morgue out there,” he said. “The play­ers are much more re­laxed; for the top play­ers it can be a night­mare.”

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