Ronnie O’Sullivan feels he is only 70% of the player he was at his peak, but that is still enough to compete with the best in the world due to how good he was in his prime.
The five-time world champion takes on Ding Junhui in the second round of the World Snooker Championship, beginning on Friday night and ending on Sunday, and he is in fine fettle.
The Rocket demolished Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in the first round, setting the record for the shortest ever match at the Crucible as he dispatched the Thai in just 108 minutes.
Despite this dominant display, the 44-year-old reckons he is a few years past his best, believing he is only performing at about 70% of the standard he was producing in the past.
However, comparing himself with the greats of other sports, his B Game is still more than good enough to compete with most other players.
‘I’m probably not the best, my best was probably around 2007/08 all the way up to maybe 2014/15,’ O’Sullivan told CGTN Sports Scene.
‘I had six or seven years where I was very dominant in the game, if I played to a certain level I would never lose. Whenever I was playing I was so confident that I was never going to lose.
‘Whereas nowadays I’m still one of the best players in the world, but I’m probably 70% of the player that I used to be.
‘At 70%, I think I was that good that I’m able to play at only 60 or 70% and I can still compete.
‘It’s a little bit like maybe Roger Federer or Tiger Woods. They’re probably not at their best, but they don’t have to be to still compete. They were so good that even not at their best they’re capable of giving the other guys a good game.’
The Rocket will have a much sterner test against Ding than he did against Thepchaiya over 25 frames in the last 16.
The Chinese star edged out Mark King in the opening round and beat O’Sullivan in their last meeting, at the UK Championship in December, and their last Crucible meeting, back in 2017.
‘I didn’t have to fight for my opportunities,’ Ronnie said of his initial win.
‘It wasn’t really a true test, but I’m pleased to get through and have another go in the next round.
‘To play Ding at the Crucible, the biggest tournament there is, it’s going to be another big match for me.
‘Ding’s had a fantastic career, won the UK Championship three times, won the Masters, I know he hasn’t yet won the World Championship.
‘I think for Ding, he’s more than capable of doing it, I’m sure he will one day, I just hope it’s not this year.’
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