Phil Haigh ✍️
Ronnie O’Sullivan says players are either capable of dealing with and thriving under pressure or they are not, and he does not think anyone on the snooker tour is good at it, other than himself.
The world champion swept aside Zhou Yuelong in the last 16 of the UK Championship on Wednesday afternoon, beating the Chinese star 6-0 with little challenge.
Zhou was a long, long way from his best as he appeared to crumble under the pressure of playing the Rocket, having described him as a ‘superhero’ before the match.
Shaun Murphy asked O’Sullivan if he had any advice for Zhou on dealing with the pressure and playing the sport’s biggest stars, but the world number one was not in advisory mood.
‘None. I’m not here to give advice,’ he said on the BBC. ‘I never had a problem with it, you watch the first time I was on TV, first poke 75, at 14.
‘I never had a problem with crowds, big occasions, the bigger the occasion the more I liked it.
‘If you can’t handle it then you’re going to struggle. I think it’s in your make-up, you’re born with the love of pressure, big occasions.
‘You can’t teach that, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. That’s why winners are winners and some people don’t win as much.’
O’Sullivan believes certain people are just gifted with the intensity, will to win and hunger that gets them to the top, picking out some snooker, and sporting, legends that he would put in that category.
‘I think you’re born with it. You look at some kids and they’re different, you don’t know what it is,’ he continued.
‘We all knew about Stephen Hendry when he was 15, he was different, Steve Davis was different. Tiger Woods, you just look in their eyes, they have a different intensity.
‘Some guys are just happy to be here and have a laugh and a joke. Some guys just have a pure intense desire, whether it’s with the game or with themselves, they love the challenge, love the competition.
‘Some people thrive on it, some people don’t like it. Some people like it for a while but then can’t handle it for that long because it’s not easy. Dealing with pressure is not an easy thing. I’ve grown to enjoy it, if that makes sense.’
Asked who on the current circuit as that special talent, O’Sullivan dismissed all his rivals, although strangely did say that there is no John Higgins around today, with John Higgins very much still around today.
‘I don’t think anyone has it,’ he said. ‘There’s definitely not a Stephen Hendry or a John Higgins in my book. People do it in spells, but to maintain it is the hard thing.’
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