Ronnie O'Sullivan makes hue claim about Zhao Xintong ahead of World Championship

April 5, 2022
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Phil Haigh ✍️  

2017 English Open - Day 2
Ronnie O’Sullivan is something of a mentor for Zhao Xintong (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan has sensationally claimed that Zhao Xintong is a better player than him, believing that the Chinese star just needs to work on his consistency, as the Rocket did himself.

The 25-year-old has long been seen as one of the brightest talents in snooker, but has started to fulfil his immense potential this season by winning the UK Championship and German Masters.

The Cyclone will head to the World Championship this month as a seeded player for the first time thanks to his superb results in York and Berlin, and O’Sullivan expects him to do well in Sheffield.

The six-time world champion has been working with Zhao, helping him develop the tactical side of his game, which is trying to catch up with his immense potting ability.

Such is the incredible skill with a cue that Zhao possesses, O’Sullivan feels he is a better player even than him, but he just needs to work on finding his best – or somewhere near it – more regularly.

‘It is just amazing to watch him play,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport. ‘He has the same problem I had years ago, and that is consistency.

Zhao Xintong
Zhao Xintong sensationally won the UK Championship this season (Picture: WST)

‘Finding that level that you need to never really drop below. I think that is going to be the thing he needs to work on over the years to develop as a player.

‘I got so much joy out of spending time with him on the table. I cannot coach him. He is a better player than me; he is a better potter than me.

‘The nature of the game is to pot balls, but we share ideas. I learn from him; he learns from me. I get a lot of pleasure from helping him.

‘If he can take one thing from it, he will run with it and learn from it.’

It has been a superb season for Zhao as he truly burst into the big time, but consistency is clearly still a problem for him.

Outside of his two tournament wins, the Cyclone has not won more than two matches in any other event over the campaign.

He heads to the Crucible this month as a genuine contender for the title, but has never won a match at the famous venue before, only playing there once, in 2019, and losing in the first round to Mark Selby.

For the first time in his career he will be playing a qualifier in the first round, but if the rest of the season is anything to go by, it will either be feast or famine for Zhao in Sheffield.

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