Five-times world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has named the one match he would like to replay – naming the 2014 World Championship final as his major regret.
O'Sullivan looked set to win the world title for a third straight year when he led Mark Selby 8-3 and 10-5 six years ago only to see the Leicester player mount a rousing recovery to complete an 18-14 win with a comeback boosted by a watertight tactical game.
It denied O'Sullivan the chance to join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six titles in the modern era and continue to leave him two adrift on Stephen Hendry's record haul of seven.
The Essex player has not been beyond the quarter-finals since 2014 as he prepares for his latest bid to recapture the sport's biggest title at the Crucible next month.
O'Sullivan insists he won't be drawn into long tactical exchanges with Selby – who added two mores victories in 2016 and 2017 – if he comes across him this year.
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"The match I’d like to play again would be Selby in the 2014 final because I’d have played it differently," said O'Sullivan during his latest chat with Hendry on Instagram.
"I would have done everything I could to not get bogged down and keep the game open.
When I looked back I thought I’d got sucked into his game. It wasn’t until after that game that I thought, ‘yeah I might lose to you and I probably will lose to you again, but it’s going to be on my terms.
"I’m just going to blast them open, I’m not getting sucked into eight or nine frames of 50-minute frames, because it destroys you.
"I tried to compete with him and play that sort of game, but then I sat back and thought, 'I’ve lost my own rhythm.'
"I’d rather lose three frames on the spin but keep my own rhythm, because given the chance I could go bang, bang, bang and win three frames back.
"It got to the point that even if he left me amongst the balls I weren’t even going to make 20 because I just had no rhythm. I learned a lot."
O'Sullivan certainly seemed to dictate terms in their previous meeting, running out a 5-1 winner in the Welsh Open last eight in February boosted by breaks of 85, 95 and 142.
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"Certain players have your number and I think Selby kind of had my number for a bit, I struggled against him, even though I had victories against him," said O'Sullivan.
"I thought, I might lose to you, but it’ll be on my terms. Ever since I’ve played like that I’ve enjoyed every game I’ve had against him, even if I’ve lost to him."
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