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Ronnie O’Sullivan interview: Defeat hurts, but I'll be back for another crack at sixth world title

O’Sullivan: Defeat hurts, but I'll be back for another crack at winning sixth world title

25/04/2016 at 23:26Updated 26/04/2016 at 00:50

Ronnie O’Sullivan put a brave face on losing 13-12 to Barry Hawkins in the last 16 of the World Championship by vowing to redouble his efforts to win a sixth title at the Crucible Theatre in 2017.

The five-times champion and tournament favourite was edged out by fellow Englishman Hawkins in the final match of the second round after recovering from trailing 12-9 to force a deciding frame with stirring breaks of 124, 88 and 63 only to come up agonisingly short.

It was a match O'Sullivan felt he could and probably should have won having lost several close frames that could easily have gone the other way amid some of his usual heavy break-building that also included runs of 139, 88, 103, 68, 118, 82, 89, 93 and 70.

Astonishingly enough, it was Hawkins’ first win over O’Sullivan since 2002 and only his second in 12 matches. Hawkins' reward is a quarter-final meeting with Marco Fu of Hong Kong on Tuesday and Wedneday as the push for a £330,000 first prize is fought out between eight men.

“I was competing in the potting and the big breaks, and all of that side of it,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport.

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action at the Crucible Theatre.

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action at the Crucible Theatre.Eurosport

“I just didn’t compete in the safety game really, and I probably lost it a little bit in the first session when I was trailing 5-3.

“It is always tough going behind early in the match. I probably felt I had the better of it, and was maybe a bit hard done by to go 4-4 in the second session.

“Tonight I found a bit of form towards the end, probably had the better of it, and felt a bit hard done by the way the last frame went.

“It was probably one of those matches I was never going to win, but I’m pleased I stuck at it, competed and made him earn it.”

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“It was a shot to nothing, “said O’Sullivan. “He wasn’t leaving anything on if he missed, but it was a good pot and he made a good 50-odd break. All credit to Barry, and I wish him well for the rest of the tournament."

O’Sullivan – champion here in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 - feels his game is holding up well at the age of 40, having won the Masters and Welsh Open since the start of the year.

Stephen Hendry is the most prolific winner in the modern era with seven titles in the 1990s with Steve Davis and Ray Reardon both on six respectively.

“Listen, at the moment, I’m absolutely devastated to have not got through,” he said. “25 appearances here, five wins, so that is a one-in-five shot. This year it wasn’t meant to be, but I look forward to coming back here.

“I think my best form here was in 2012, 2013 and 2014. I think in those three years, I was as strong as I’ve ever been.

“I’ve still nicked a couple of tournaments this year and last year, and I feel like I’m not doing too badly for a 40-year-old."

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“I’m looking forward to a few more exhibitions, a trip to Romania, a bit of holiday time and a nice three-week trip across America,” he said.

“I’m doing a travel log programme. I’m going to New York, Chicago, Memphis and New Orleans. It is a bit about pool and local pool players are going to show us around the area.

“We’re going to have fun, bounce around America and have a bit of a laugh.”

World Championship quarter-finals

Alan McManus (Sco) v John Higgins (Sco)

Mark Williams (Wal) v Ding Junhui (Chn)

Marco Fu (HK) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)

Mark Selby (Eng) v Kyren Wilson (Eng)

From Desmond Kane at the Crucible Theatre

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