Ronnie O'Sullivan cemented himself as snooker's greatest-ever player with an eighth UK Championship title; O'Sullivan's 48th birthday is on Tuesday but he is showing no signs of slowing down; seven-time world champion is now the event's youngest and oldest winner
Monday 4 December 2023 07:44, UK
Ronnie O'Sullivan has no plans to walk away from snooker anytime soon after a record-extending eighth UK Championship title as he beat Ding Junhui 10-7 in the final on Sunday.
O'Sullivan became the youngest ranking winner 30 years ago when he lifted the UK Championship for the first time and is now the oldest winner of the tournament.
'The Rocket' turns 48 years old on Tuesday and his success comes just over a week on from the release of his documentary which shows his struggles with handling pressure over his career, including at the 2022 World Championship where he won a seventh world title.
He won the Shanghai Masters, an invitational event, earlier this season but pulled out of the Champion of Champions in early November to take a mental health break.
His UK Championship triumph was the 40th ranking title in his career, which began in 1992.
"I'm always beating myself up because of the age thing. I keep thinking I have to stop winning at some point but I'll keep going until the wheels fall off," said O'Sullivan.
Hauled back from 4-1 and 7-5 leads by Ding, who like O'Sullivan won his first UK title as a teenager in 2005, the world No 1 dug deep when it mattered and consecutive breaks of 100 and 74 set him up for his final flourish.
It was an admirable effort from the Chinese player, who had clambered off his sick bed to sink defending champion Mark Allen on the opening day having seriously considered withdrawing from the tournament.
But ultimately O'Sullivan, who had seldom been required to find his best form during his journey through the tournament, had just enough to leave Ding contemplating a second consecutive final defeat as he won the final three frames to win 10-7.
Predictably raucous scenes greeted O'Sullivan's match-winning, exhibition-style finish of 129 at the Barbican in York, but the world No 1 cut a distinctly underwhelmed figure when grilled about his latest history-making achievement.
"I get more of a buzz from going for a run in the morning and having breakfast with my mate," said O'Sullivan, who is set next to play competitive snooker at The Masters.
"I'm not sitting here with a massive grin and super-excited. I just go through the motions a lot of the time.
"It's great to win and I give my best when I'm out there and I want to win, but it's not the same excitement as years ago when I was winning my first World and UK and Masters titles, and you're buzzing.
"Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice feeling and a job well done, but I get more of a buzz from going for a run in the morning or having breakfast with my mate.
"I don't actually feel like ever playing. Once you get down there you think you're glad you've done it, but even in this match today I was thinking I didn't feel like it, I'd rather sit on my bed and watch a bit of Netflix. I feel like that a lot of the time."