Neil Robertson on Ronnie O'Sullivan praise: 'He talks about me differently'

February 23, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️

2019 Coral Players Championship - Day 7 (Final)
Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan have plenty of respect for each other (Picture: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson is happy for Ronnie O’Sullivan to label him as the favourite for the World Snooker Championship this year, enjoying the praise he gets from the Rocket, although admitting that there might be a hint of a mind game in there as well.

Robertson is in incredible form at the moment, winning the Masters, Players Championship and English Open this season and knocking in four centuries on the spin on Tuesday in his 5-0 European Masters win over Alfie Burden.

O’Sullivan has beaten Robertson in a big final this season – winning the World Grand Prix – but has since lost to him at both the Masters and Players Championship, leading him to label the Australian: ‘without a doubt Neil is the best player in the world at the moment.’

The Rocket also said of the Thunder from Down Under: ‘If he can get back to the semi-finals of the World Championship, he wins it as far as I’m concerned.’

Robertson says that might be to exert a bit of pressure on him ahead of the trip to Sheffield, but is still feels Ronnie has the ultimate respect for him as a player by the way he speaks about him.

‘Ronnie puts out his favourites a couple of months before the Worlds, he seems to do it every year to put us under the pump or something,’ Robertson told WST.

‘But no, he’s very genuine with what he says about me. I’ve noticed a lot over the years that he talks about me maybe differently to some of the others.

‘Maybe that’s just mutual respect there. I’ve defended him a couple of times in the media when I’ve felt he’s got a bit of tough stick.’

On being labelled favourite for the World Championship, Robertson is fine with it, he knows he needs to overcome his problems at the Crucible that have seen him reach just one semi-final since he won the title in 2010.

2017 Hong Kong Masters - Day 4 (Final)
Robertson and O’Sullivan will be two of the favourites in Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

The Aussie is not a fan of the tight nature of the venue in the two-table set-up before the semis, while he has also struggled in recent years with being dragged into tactical battles rather than playing to his own strengths.

‘I’m one of the favourites in every tournament that I play in, so I am used to that,’ he said. ‘It’s just about maintaining that good brand of snooker that I enjoy to play, which is attacking snooker and big breaks.

‘As long as I can play more frames and matches like that, the better chance I have of winning.’

O’Sullivan has been very complimentary about Robertson over the years, believing him to have the best cue action in the game, and feels that he is clearly better than anyone else in the sport right now.

‘Without a doubt Neil is the best player in the world at the moment, hands down,’ O’Sullivan told the Mirror. ‘He is the complete player. Very aggressive, very good safety, amazing potter, great technique and good under pressure.

‘If he can get back to the semi-finals of the World Championship, he wins it as far as I’m concerned.

‘The only thing he seems to struggle with at the Crucible is that it is a small venue. With the partition and two-table set-up he can’t do his usual approach and walk into the shot as he would like.

‘But if he does manage to get past the quarter-finals ,when the divider goes, right now I can’t see anyone getting near him over that distance. He’s just too good.’

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