Ronnie O’Sullivan says he respects his next World Snooker Championship opponent Ding Junhui for enjoying a great work-life balance and driving his own car.
O’Sullivan recorded the fastest win in Crucible history as he completed a 10-1 demolition of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh under two hours to cruise through to the second round of the tournament.
He is now preparing to tackle Ding as the old foes meet in Sheffield for the first time since 2017 – a match Ding won in the last eight.
They first met in the 2005 Masters quarter-final and O’Sullivan sees shades of himself in the way the 33-year-old is coping the expectations of millions of supporters in his homeland.
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I like to be healthy, live a good lifestyle and that means I can’t play in every tournament otherwise my lifestyle wouldn’t be how I’d want it.
O’Sullivan said: “If Ding looks at his career over all, he’ll say he’s probably got a great balance – he’s been super successful on the table, but he hasn’t been a slave to the sport.
“Everyone has a different way of approaching snooker, be it [Stephen] Hendry or [Steve] Davis, or a Jimmy White, who managed to enjoy himself and still compete.
“I’m a little bit in that bracket where I like to enjoy my life, so I probably don’t practise as much as I should and I probably don’t enter as many tournaments as I should to get the best out of myself.
“But for me there’s always a trade-off. I like to be healthy, live a good lifestyle and that means I can’t play in every tournament otherwise my lifestyle wouldn’t be how I’d want it.
“Ding probably falls into that category as well. He gets really excited by the really big tournaments, but probably doesn’t want to be on the road 24/7. He drives his own car in many ways, and I respect that.”
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He has won the Masters and the UK, but for someone of Ding’s ability he is obviously capable of winning a lot more.
O’Sullivan on Ding
Despite reaching the final in 2016 and winning 14 other ranking titles, Ding is still yet to win the sport’s ultimate prize.
And, while O’Sullivan is convinced Ding is more than capable of going all the way at the Crucible, he also warned him that time is running out if he wants to finally realise the dreams of millions of Chinese snooker fans.
“I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on the world title, but each year you get older, it gets harder,” added O’Sullivan.
“Some players can play well into their 40s like me and [John] Higgins and the [Mark] Williams of the world, but we’re exceptions to the rule.
“For a lot of the players in that 30 upwards bracket, now is the time for them to make sure they get their hands on the important titles like the Masters, the UKs and the worlds.
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