Ronnie O’Sullivan beat John Higgins 18-14 to claim a maiden world title back in 2001. However, the world champion has explained to Colin Murray in an exclusive hour-long special that leading 17-14, he felt he could still have had the title ripped from his grasp.
O’Sullivan, now a six-times world champion, led the 1998 world champion 17-13 but missed an easy red to the middle to allow 'The Wizard of Wishaw' to cut the arrears. It left O’Sullivan worried that the Scot would stage a memorable comeback.
“A point I remember is being 17-13 up and I had an easy red in the middle, but I remember thinking: ‘I’ve won this now, what am I going to say? I’m going to be picking the trophy up and thanking people’. And all of a sudden I’ve missed the red in the middle and any other player you think ‘there’s a chance I might get back to the table but John Higgins you ain’t coming back to the table',” said O’Sullivan.
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“He’s the best in those situations, he clears up and then goes 40-odd in the next and I’m thinking ‘here we go…’ He looked like he found his rhythm and I thought I wouldn’t be surprised if I lose this 18-17 now,” added O’Sullivan.
However, the 44-year-old would get his hand back on the table, compiling a break of 80 to seal a first world title, even if he felt that he would struggle to put together a run of three balls.
But he missed, and I came to the table and I made what I would consider the best 80 break I’ve ever made in my life because of how I felt inside. I didn’t think I could put three balls together let alone an 80 break to win my first world title. So for me, that’s probably the best 80 break I’ve ever made in my life.
O'Sullivan would, of course, go on to collect a further five world titles, claiming number six in a comfortable 18-8 win against Kyren Wilson back in August.
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Eurosport’s exclusive hour-long special ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan: The Joy of Six’ airs Friday 16 October at 10pm on Eurosport 1’