Tuesday 20 March 2018

Snooker: O'Sullivan can light up crucible - Ebdon

Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan. Photo: Getty Images

Peter Ebdon believes Ronnie O'Sullivan can bring "fireworks" to the Betfred.com World Championship if he turns up at the Crucible in the right frame of mind.

It emerged today that O'Sullivan verbally informed World Snooker last Thursday that he intended to pull out of the tournament, which begins this Saturday.

He was asked to put the withdrawal in writing, but reversed his decision and on Friday confirmed that he would play.

O'Sullivan is due to visit Dr Steve Peters, a sports psychiatrist who worked with British cyclists at the 2008 Olympics and also has a role with Team Sky.

He is reportedly hoping Dr Peters can recharge his enthusiasm for snooker, ahead of a first-round clash with Dominic Dale in Sheffield which takes place over next Monday and Tuesday.

Ebdon, 40, made his Crucible debut in 1992, a year before O'Sullivan, and has seen the man who is five years his junior experience many highs and lows in his career.

After a gruelling quarter-final defeat to Ebdon at the 2005 World Championship, O'Sullivan warned he was ready to take a year off, but he was soon back in action.

Ebdon hopes the World Championship sees O'Sullivan in full flow, and full of hunger for a fourth title.

"You never know, do you?" Ebdon told Press Association Sport.

"Because if the real Ronnie O'Sullivan turns up against the real John Higgins, or the real Ding Junhui, or a number of other top players when they're really playing on top of their game, we really could have fireworks.

"This could be one of the best World Championships we've ever seen, and I think it's very, very open."

Ebdon was speaking before it became known that O'Sullivan was considering whether to show up in Sheffield.

And while O'Sullivan prepares for what would be his 19th World Championship, Ebdon is heading into his 20th.

"It's something that I'm very proud of," he said.

The 2002 champion, who was also runner-up in 1996 and 2006, starts against Stuart Bingham, and picks a player who has not gone beyond the second round at the Crucible as his tip to be champion this year.

Ding Junhui has had plenty of success elsewhere, but in Sheffield he has been unable to string together victories.

Ebdon could meet Ding in the second round, and said: "I think in many ways he's going to be the player to beat this year, because he's maturing all the time.

"I practised up at the (World Snooker) academy in Sheffield last year before the World Championship.

"There was nobody in the world playing better than him last year going into the World Championship, in my opinion, and I was a bit surprised that he didn't win the World Championship last year.

"He's just got so much ability.

"Sometimes he can put his head down when things are not going right for him.

"It's because he's got so much ability and so much class.

"I think he has begun to show signs of maturing in the last season or two, especially with his win at the Masters at Wembley this season, where, for me, he just never came out of second gear.

"It was just so classy, it was unbelievable.

"If we see the real Ding Junhui turn up at the World Championship this year, I think he'll take all the beating."

Press Association

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