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Boredom a major factor in O'Sullivan's decision

Ronnie O'Sullivan has admitted he may well end up "getting smashed" when he returns to the table to defend his world title in seven weeks' time, having ended his sabbatical from the sport.

O'Sullivan: I needed the rest but I just thought it was time to get back playing'
O'Sullivan: I needed the rest but I just thought it was time to get back playing'

O'Sullivan won his fourth World Championship in May, but then announced he was taking a break from the sport to deal with personal issues that have dogged him throughout his career.

The 37-year-old made a brief comeback in September at a tournament in Gloucester, but again decided to walk away from the sport following a defeat to the unheralded Simon Bedford.

O'Sullivan, widely regarded as the best player in the history of the game, vowed not to return before the end of the season, but he went back on that decision yesterday, revealing at a press conference in London that he intended to return to the action for this year's event at The Crucible.

"The Rocket" says he has played snooker on just 10 days out of the 302 that have passed since he posed with the famous trophy in Sheffield last May. For that reason, he knows he is taking a massive gamble.

"I'm very match rusty. I haven't played any matches. I have not been in any intense situations so it's going to be a tough call to go in there with no match practice behind me," O'Sullivan said.

"I might get smashed in Sheffield. I'm going in to the unknown. It's a massive challenge."

O'Sullivan's career has been a dramatic rollercoaster of emotions. He made his first century break at 10 years of age, his first 147 came five years later – 12 months before he turned professional.

He then went on to win four world titles and 27 ranking tournaments, but off-the-table problems, including a battle with depression coupled with disciplinary issues, meant O'Sullivan often made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

He sought the care of renowned psychologist Dr Steve Peters to help him, but he admits he cannot be sure that his personal problems – which will be chronicled in a second autobiography he is bringing out in October – will not affect his play when he returns.

"They [the personal issues] possibly could [affect me]," he said. "That's the reality of it. I can't make any guarantees. All I know is that I have to make a start. I have tried to put everything on hold, get things resolved. Hopefully, they will be resolved. If they are not I will readdress it and see if I am still capable of taking on a commitment of being a professional sportsman. Have the personal problems been resolved? No."

What is clear is that O'Sullivan has rediscovered his enthusiasm for the game – thanks to a mix of his revulsion at the boredom of everyday life, and his determination to prove his doubters wrong.

"Boredom was a big factor [in deciding whether to come back]," he continued.

"Three or four months ago I was sitting there thinking: 'I'd take getting beat 10-0 in Sheffield just to be back playing rather than not doing anything'.

"I was a bit bored just going out for lunches and chilling out. I needed the rest but I just thought it was time to get back to doing what I've done for a lot of my life. I certainly feel refreshed. I have a different perspective on things now. I thought maybe it was worth giving it another whirl."

Jimmy White, meanwhile, has no doubts O'Sullivan can better Stephen Hendry's record of seven Crucible crowns.

"I think he'll beat Hendry's record, definitely," said White. "They're different animals. Hendry had the killer-instinct and the dedication, but Ronnie has been away partying and doing what he wanted to do in life. But now it's time to prove what he's got. I think he'll beat Hendry's record."

Ronnie O'Sullivan has admitted he may well end up "getting smashed" when he returns to the table to defend his world title in seven weeks' time, having ended his sabbatical from the sport.

O'Sullivan won his fourth World Championship in May, but then announced he was taking a break from the sport to deal with personal issues that have dogged him throughout his career.

The 37-year-old made a brief comeback in September at a tournament in Gloucester, but again decided to walk away from the sport following a defeat to the unheralded Simon Bedford.

O'Sullivan, widely regarded as the best player in the history of the game, vowed not to return before the end of the season, but he went back on that decision yesterday, revealing at a press conference in London that he intended to return to the action for this year's event at The Crucible.

"The Rocket" says he has played snooker on just 10 days out of the 302 that have passed since he posed with the famous trophy in Sheffield last May. For that reason, he knows he is taking a massive gamble.

"I'm very match rusty. I haven't played any matches. I have not been in any intense situations so it's going to be a tough call to go in there with no match practice behind me," O'Sullivan said.

"I might get smashed in Sheffield. I'm going in to the unknown. It's a massive challenge."

O'Sullivan's career has been a dramatic rollercoaster of emotions. He made his first century break at 10 years of age, his first 147 came five years later – 12 months before he turned professional.

He then went on to win four world titles and 27 ranking tournaments, but off-the-table problems, including a battle with depression coupled with disciplinary issues, meant O'Sullivan often made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

He sought the care of renowned psychologist Dr Steve Peters to help him, but he admits he cannot be sure that his personal problems – which will be chronicled in a second autobiography he is bringing out in October – will not affect his play when he returns.

"They [the personal issues] possibly could [affect me]," he said. "That's the reality of it. I can't make any guarantees. All I know is that I have to make a start. I have tried to put everything on hold, get things resolved. Hopefully, they will be resolved. If they are not I will readdress it and see if I am still capable of taking on a commitment of being a professional sportsman. Have the personal problems been resolved? No."

What is clear is that O'Sullivan has rediscovered his enthusiasm for the game – thanks to a mix of his revulsion at the boredom of everyday life, and his determination to prove his doubters wrong.

"Boredom was a big factor [in deciding whether to come back]," he continued.

"Three or four months ago I was sitting there thinking: 'I'd take getting beat 10-0 in Sheffield just to be back playing rather than not doing anything'.

"I was a bit bored just going out for lunches and chilling out. I needed the rest but I just thought it was time to get back to doing what I've done for a lot of my life. I certainly feel refreshed. I have a different perspective on things now. I thought maybe it was worth giving it another whirl."

Jimmy White, meanwhile, has no doubts O'Sullivan can better Stephen Hendry's record of seven Crucible crowns.

"I think he'll beat Hendry's record, definitely," said White. "They're different animals. Hendry had the killer-instinct and the dedication, but Ronnie has been away partying and doing what he wanted to do in life. But now it's time to prove what he's got. I think he'll beat Hendry's record."

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