Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘preparing for death’ as snooker icon gives away trophy

Ronnie O'Sullivan tells Laila to ‘stop taking pictures’

Ronnie O’Sullivan has darkly admitted he is “preparing for death” after vowing to give away his Shanghai Masters trophy. The 47-year-old was crowned the champion at the China tournament for the fourth consecutive time on Sunday after defeating Belgian ace Luca Brecel 11-9 in the final.

“I’ll be giving the trophy to my friend who is opening up a club here,” O’Sullivan said after the final. “It will be staying in China. I always give them away. My mate Paul’s got one, I gave one to a kid in the crowd.

“I’m not really bothered about trophies. I’ve sold quite a few of them – I don’t want any memorabilia left by the time I’m 70 or 80. I’m preparing for death – part of that is I don’t want no snooker stuff – waistcoats, cues, it’s all going to go.”

O’Sullivan and Brecel reached the showpiece event in China after seeing off Mark Selby and Neil Robertson respectively in their semi-final showdowns. The Rocket got the upper hand in the early stages of the final as he won the first frame and went into the mid-session interval with a 3-1 lead. But Brecel came firing back and moved 4-3 ahead.

Read more… O’Sullivan sets out retirement plan and admits ‘behaviour’ blighted career

Brecel, who won the World Snooker Championship at the start of May, made huge breaks of 134, 75, 103 and 98 in the opening session as he illustrated his prodigious talent. But O’Sullivan dug deep to win three frames on the bounce and take a 6-4 lead.

Brecel then rallied to go into the next mid-session interval level at 7-7, before O’Sullivan put himself within touching distance of lifting the trophy at 10-7 ahead. And despite Brecel pulling the score back to 10-9, O’Sullivan held his nerve to win the frame he needed for victory.

O’Sullivan’s triumph means he has now won the Shanghai Masters five times. He is unbeaten at the tournament since 2016 and lifted the trophy in 2017, 2018 and 2019, before the tournament was scrapped for three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“This game can be so difficult some days and others it can be so easy,” O’Sullivan added after his latest title. “I’ve gone two or three years without feeling that I’d missed a ball – I was flying. There were some balls out there that I was missing and I was laughing to myself.

“I’m not surprised Luca has done as well as he has. He’s not a surprise world champion. He’s got an amazing gift to play this game. The performance he put on in Sheffield was unbelievable. He has improved a lot as a player and he loves the game.”

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