Ronnie O’Sullivan has put his technique change down to making him competitive with the younger players coming through, admitting that even the greats of sport such as Roger Federer have to adapt their games. The Rocket added that while winning is a welcome addition to competing, just playing - as evidenced by Federer - can be enough.
The six-time world champion struggled at the start of this season, but has looked a lot sharper in recent weeks and won his first three matches at the Welsh Open by an aggregate of 12-0.
O’Sullivan claims to have gone back to a technique that served him so well earlier in his career, and is happy with the changes.
Key dates and schedule for 2022-23 snooker season as O'Sullivan defends world crown
“It was nice,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “I’ve changed my technique a bit as I wasn't able to manoeuvre the white.
“Was I happy to accept playing solid stuff that I did not think was good enough to win events? So I went back to the way I was playing 2011 to 2017 - a bit inconsistent but when it was good it was decent.
“I would rather have a few good tournaments than a load of mediocre ones.
“My cueball is better and I am able to manufacture breaks.
I am never going to compete with these young kids at long potting and safety, and youth, so I have to play to my strengths and it is trying to be creative.
“I had seven years where I was striking it solid, scoring heavy and winning a lot of tournaments.”
'He makes you feel like you’re not part of the match' - McManus on O’Sullivan
O’Sullivan is happy with the balance between snooker and his off-table activities at the moment, but conceded it was a case of adapting or fading away - and cited the likes of Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Federer as examples.
“Running first, food second and pitch up and playing a bit of snooker,” he said. “If I can’t enjoy it now, then I don’t know why I would be playing.
“I can’t compete with the younger players. They pot too good and have a lot of cue power.
“It is like tennis, a lot of the older players like Serena Williams, Federer, Nadal. You have these young guys coming so they are not going to have it their own way as much, so you have to adapt.”
While winning is a welcome addition to competing, O’Sullivan cites Federer as an example of playing being enough.
‘Brilliant stuff!’ – O’Sullivan seals Gould whitewash with ton
O’Sullivan said: “Does Federer need to play? Probably not but he probably quite enjoys getting out of the house.”
The 2021 Welsh Open is live on Eurosport. Watch it on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
World Championship qualifiers to be played over 19 frames
Opinion: O’Sullivan has found a formula for success that can bring more glory