Ronnie O'Sullivan admits he is struggling to keep up with the repetitive nature of the World Snooker Tour schedule after a swift return to action in Milton Keynes saw him edge out Ding Junhui in a 6-5 victory in the Players Championship first round on Tuesday.
The six-times defending world champion produced breaks of 58, 58, 103 and a closing 95 to hold off the challenge of Ding, who had forced the decider from 5-3 behind with runs of 53 and 60 having earlier contributed 65, 71 and 53 to share the first six frames with the world number two.
O'Sullivan was back on the baize only two days after surprisingly losing 9-8 to 750-1 tournament outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final at Celtic Manor on Sunday night.
Why Selby’s unapologetic pursuit of greatness gives snooker headache
'I can't believe he's played that!' – Amazing O'Sullivan shot stuns commentators
The trip to Celtic Manor was the first time a WST event has been held outside of Milton Keynes since the delayed World Championship in Sheffield last August due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Returning to the Marshall Arena in MK is a bit like green baize Groundhog Day for Rocket Ronnie and his rivals.
- Players Championship 2021: Draw, Schedule, Results
- 'I hope I haven't upset Ding' – O'Sullivan sorry for bout of rest rage during win over Ding
"The best way to look at it is like it is one continuous tournament," said O'Sullivan, who faces Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals on Thursday night as he a chases a third Players Championship title and a £125,000 first prize.
"I don't separate them anymore. I'm in round 38 at the moment. It is very hard to differentiate them from one tournament to another.
I said to someone the other day when they asked what tournament I was playing in: 'I said, I don't know the name of it'. It's like having 30 kids, how do you expect to know all their names?
"There are so many. It is like having a 9-5 job. You just go out and play and try to get as much holiday time if you need it."
O'Sullivan failed to make history by matching John Higgins as a record-equalling five-times Welsh Open champion, but felt the week in Newport was beneficial away from the baize for his own history knowledge.
"I had a great time in Newport. I learnt a lot about the history and the Roman remains there," he said. "How the Celts were up in the mountains and they came up to overthrow them and they just were up for the row.
So I learnt a lot about the Celtic spirit in Newport. It's a great place. I've always had fond memories of Newport. It's a place that will be in my heart forever. My favourite venue to play at really.
"It was great to be at such a nice resort as Celtic Manor."
World Seniors Championship
World Seniors Championship - White and Hendry among snooker legends eyeing glory
'Wow!' - O'Sullivan, Selby and Murphy with Shot of the Tournament contenders