Ronnie O'Sullivan has gone 15 months without winning a major snooker title because nobody is "scared" to play him, according to world number two Judd Trump.
The sport's GOAT lifted a record 37th ranking title when he defeated Kyren Wilson 18-8 to claim his sixth world title in August 2020, but has been forced to endure a title drought despite reaching five finals last season.
O'Sullivan suffered defeats to Trump (9-7) in the Northern Ireland Open final, Mark Selby (9-3) in the Scottish Open and 750-1 outsider Jordan Brown (9-8) at the Welsh Open. He was also swept away by John Higgins (10-3) at the Players Championship and Neil Robertson (10-4) at the Tour Championship.
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Ahead of the Rocket's bid to win a record fourth title at the Champion of Champions and a £150,000 top prize in Bolton this week, Trump – who opens the tournament against world seniors champion David Lilley this afternoon (1pm GMT) in Bolton – has warned the Essex icon that his fear factor in the game has gone.
“You are just happy to win tournaments these days, it is very hard to win any tournament for all the top players, Ronnie O’Sullivan included," Trump told reporters.
Look at Ronnie, he can’t win an event to save his life at the moment. Even the so-called smaller events have all the top players still in them.
"I just think he’s lost a little bit of the belief. When you don’t win you don’t have the belief and people aren’t scared to beat you.
“He’s still getting to finals and he’s always going to breeze through the first few rounds because he’s that good. When he comes up against a top player there’s just not that gulf in class, I don’t think, anymore.
“No one’s that scared to play him, anyone’s game is good enough to beat him on their day, that’s what’s happened over the last year.”
Trump has lost finals at the Champions of Champions in 2014 (10-7) to O'Sullivan and (10-9) to Neil Robertson in 2019.
Ahead of a campaign that sees Ryan Day face Stephen Maguire in the other Group 1 semi-final on Monday,, the Bristol man admits he would like world number three O'Sullivan to be more positive about the sport rather than berate emerging talent when the mood takes him.
“The things he says don’t bother me because I am used to them," commented Trump. "Look, there are so many different sides to him, he can be the nicest person in the world.
“It’s just some of the comments he makes are a bit derogatory towards snooker and there is no need for it really. There is no need to put it down, none of the rest of us put it down.
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“It’s just something he likes to do to try and pretend he doesn’t love snooker, but deep down it means so much to him, and the records do too. He gets a huge buzz off it.
So if you haven’t got anything good to say about the game, don’t say anything. For me, I’d like to put myself to good use for snooker even when I’m not playing, and make it as big as I can and help grow the sport.
“I don’t want to destroy the thing that gave me so many opportunities to try other stuff.”
Rocket's Champion of Champions victories
- 2013 Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-8 Stuart Bingham
- 2014 Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-7 Judd Trump
- 2018 Ronnie O'Sullivan 10-9 Kyren Wilson
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