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Rocket: My head’s in the right place

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN insists he is mentally prepared to be world champion for a fourth time.

The 36-year-old only has concerns about his form and a 10-4 first-round win over Peter Ebdon has not convinced O'Sullivan yet that he is playing well enough to triumph on May 7.

O'Sullivan converted a 7-2 overnight lead into a resounding success to set up a clash with two-time former winner Mark Williams or China's Liu Chuang in the second round.

He will be back in action at the World Championship on Saturday, and wants to see an improvement.

Working with sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters has fortified O'Sullivan for match play, and after seeing off Ebdon yesterday he said: “My attitude was good. It's been really good all season.

“Even though I've not been playing great I've not been beating myself up too much if things aren't going right for me.

“I've been working on that side of my game for the last year or so and that's important. I'm definitely much better mentally.

“My game's not brilliant, but at least my mind is allowing me to give 110 per cent and get what I can out of matches, so I'm pleased with that side of things. If I win, then great, but if I don't it's not the be-all and end-all.”

O'Sullivan has flown mainly under the radar this tournament, with outspoken remarks from Mark Williams and Mark Allen, and Stephen Hendry's 147, grabbing the attention.

That suits him, with O'Sullivan saying he will not “get carried away” with a first-round victory, whoever the opponent. He famously lost to Ebdon in a 2005 quarter-final, but insisted that match had not influenced his thinking yesterday.

Ebdon, frustrated not to perform as he did when winning the China Open at the start of the month, said: ”Ultimately I don't think Ronnie has really had to play that well to beat me.

“I think certainly he's going to have to improve a lot in his next match.”

But Ebdon added: “You can't write that man off, that man is an absolute genius, one of the greatest players of all time.”


Judd Trump was set to return this afternoon with a 5-4 lead over Dominic Dale, hoping to recover from a suspected bout of food poisoning which affected the performance of last year's runner-up in the opening session.

Andrew Higginson, from Widnes, caused an upset last night by knocking out world number eight Stephen Lee, who lost in the first round for the sixth successive year, this time by a 10-6 margin.

World number one Mark Selby, seeking his first Crucible title, was 6-3 behind against fellow English cueman Barry Hawkins, having been struggling with a back problem recently. Selby needs to find his best form this evening, hard to envisage after limited practice, or an early exit beckons.

Graeme Dott suffered his heaviest defeat at the World Championship this morning as Joe Perry completed a 10-1 demolition of the 34-year-old Scot who had been 8-1 down overnight. Perry goes on to play Stephen Maguire.