Saturday 19 August 2017

Davis: O'Sullivan could walk away from game

Steve Davis claims Ronnie O'Sullivan is not alone in suffering from snooker "burnout".

But Davis suspects the troubled superstar is the only player in the game today who could make a spur-of-the-moment decision to quit.

O'Sullivan told organisers last week that he would be withdrawing from the World Championship, before sleeping on the decision and reversing it the following day.

The 35-year-old three-time former winner has travelled to Sheffield and is due to play Dominic Dale in the first round on Monday.

He has also consulted a sports psychiatrist, Dr Steve Peters, in an effort to spur his interest in competing again, after four straight first-round defeats in major tournaments.

Davis has heard the likes of Stephen Hendry set time-spans for their careers, before electing to carry on beyond their intended retirement dates.

"What we've got with Ronnie is another animal entirely," said Davis. "I'm not sure there's any plan there with Ronnie.

"We've got a player who's much more likely to do something on a whim.

"I'm not saying that's totally the case because he may have a plan, but Ronnie is very much on his emotions and if he doesn't fancy it on the day, he won't.

"If one day he woke up and thought to himself, 'I don't fancy being a snooker player anymore,' he may not.

"I don't think many players within the game would be able to drop it like a hot potato, but he possibly is one that could.

"He obviously loves the game, or has loved the game, and it's hard to believe you could completely fall out of love with it."

Davis, still playing at 53 despite failing to qualify for the World Championship this year, suggests O'Sullivan is not the first and will not be the last player to lose his appetite.

"Burnout is a problem for a lot of players," he said. "You can lose interest, it's just how you cope with that.

"You know full well you're not going to wake up every morning and be desperate to go to the practice table.

"You've just got to be understanding of how it changes for you and perhaps cut your cloth accordingly.

"I've spoken to Stephen Hendry and he says it's so much harder to practise than it used to be, and that's got to be the same for everybody.

"Ronnie's been playing since he was seven or eight, so even though he's fairly young to be talking of getting bored, he's been playing for plenty of years."

Davis, a six-time winner at the Crucible in the 1980s, has little interest in walking away from snooker, despite tumbling down the rankings to 41st.

"I'll be playing next season," he confirmed. "I'll play a few less exhibitions and try to enjoy the tournaments."

World Snooker Championship,

Live, British Eurosport, 10.0; BBC 1, 2.30

Irish Independent

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