Judd Trump’s verdict on Ronnie O’Sullivan is scary for World Snooker Championship rivals

World No1 Judd Trump reckons main Crucible rival Ronnie O’Sullivan is still improving – and can play until he is 60.

The Rocket walks out at the iconic Sheffield theatre on Saturday morning to face debutant Mark Joyce as the defending and six-time world champion.

World No2 O’Sullivan, 45, can equal Stephen Hendry’s longstanding and most cherished record of seven world titles with another success this year.

And that would see him hailed almost universally as the greatest player of all time having already overhauled most of the Scot’s other milestone achievements.

The Juddernaut has never been frightened of O’Sullivan, and has won five of their last six meetings including four finals.

And the 2019 champion Trump, 31, is the tournament favourite this time having won a record six ranking events last season and already another five this term.



Ronnie O'Sullivan
World No1 Judd Trump reckons main Crucible rival Ronnie O’Sullivan is still improving – and can play until he is 60

But the respect from Trump for O’Sullivan is even stronger now than it was even as a star-gazing teenager plotting a career in the sport.

Trump said: “I have been professional for 16 years now and although you get people sat at home saying Ronnie is not as good as he used to be.

“I played Ronnie when I first turned professional at 18-19 years old and he was nowhere the standard that he is now.

“Players would get on top of him and he’d throw his toys out of the pram, he wasn’t anywhere near the consistent level he is now.

“The will to win he has now, never giving up, has survived the years and he knows himself much better.

“I just think his will to win is the reason he plays everything down about titles and records, it means so much to him, but he doesn’t want to let on.

“Fitness is important as you get older, and he is running 40 miles a week. I genuinely think he could play until 60, or even older. He could stay in the top 16 or 32 at that age.



Judd Trump of England plays a shot during the final match against Yan Bingtao of China
Trump is the tournament favourite

“Just play until he wants to stop, really, until he cannot stand it anymore. He is that good.

“I mean for the next 5-10 years he could easily stay top 4 or 8, it’s up to how much he wants it.

“Playing at 60…that would mean another 29 years for me! I’d like to just be doing what he is doing at 45!

“I am starting to get some longevity and have been in the top eight now for 10 years. That is already good in snooker terms.

“The next 10 years for me will define my career. Ronnie has already done what he needs to do. The same with John Higgins and Mark Williams.

“It’s about me, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson over the next 5-10 years trying to break into that category of being one of the greats of all time.”

Trump’s own talent and wizardry with a cue ball will once more get fans off their seats at the Crucible, with allowed capacity ranging from around 325 today to the full 980 for the final.

But he reckons that even if John Higgins has claims for being the best player, no one will ever replace O’Sullivan as top dog in the affections of the public.



Ronnie O'Sullivan wins the 2020 Snooker World Championship
But he admits Ronnie will always be the top dog in the eyes of the public

He added: “Everyone will always say Ronnie is the greatest, no matter if I beat every record he has got, they will say Ronnie, just because of his style of play, and how easy he makes it.

“To me, I don’t know if he is actually the best, if you swap John Higgins’s style around with Ronnie, would people still say the same? Probably not.

“It’s just the manner in which he does it. For me, John and Ronnie at their very best are far ahead of anyone else I have ever played, in a different league. And Mark Williams is also up there.

“This is an amazing era for snooker, all of us are taking it to a new level.

“And I am just pleased that at my absolute best I have been able to beat John in a world final, beaten Ronnie a good few times in a row as well.

“I’d like to think that at my best I am somewhere near them.”

O’Sullivan said last night: “I look back and think I could have won 10 world titles if I had found some consistency and hadn’t wasted seven, eight, nine or 10 years of my career.

“But nothing is ever plain sailing and at one point I was just happy to get one, so to get six I am comfortable with that achievement.

“To win another one 20 years after my first, two decades, would be something.”

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