Ronnie O’Sullivan goes on an extraordinary rant about ‘impostor syndrome’

Ronnie O’Sullivan insists that he is a snooker phony who doesn’t care about his results and shouldn’t be playing anymore. The Rocket is bidding this year to extend his own record of seven hits at the Cazoo UK Championship in York. World number one and current seven-time world champion O’Sullivan beat Wales’ Matthew Stevens 6-2 in front of a raucous crowd at the Barbican Center yesterday.

But after admitting he felt flat, O’Sullivan branded himself an “impostor” and “unbreakable” as even a crushing defeat would leave him unfazed and just wanting to go out for a beer.

O’Sullivan said: “I shouldn’t even really be playing by right at my age if you look at Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry and those guys. So I don’t take it too seriously; actually, I find it all quite amusing. I have a bit of impostor syndrome. I was happier when I had that losing streak of five finals because it felt good.

“But when I started winning tournaments again, I didn’t really feel like I deserved it or that I didn’t play well enough. It felt like a plot to allow me to do it, and I felt like a fake. When I won the World Cup again in May, I didn’t feel very good because it put me back in that place where I was questioning myself.

“Maybe it’s hard to rest after the last world title. I’m feeling down to be honest with you and I don’t want to play pool right now. I don’t play pool much, and I really don’t care.

“Basically I keep coming back mainly because it’s something to do, I had a year off at that time and I got bored working on the pig farm. I listen to my body and I listen to my mind. I apply myself well mentally in matches, but whether I play well or badly, I don’t really care.

“I could win 6-0 and still have a good time in York. I don’t have any pressure, so every game is like practice, even if it’s not easy. I have worked my way in such a way that this is so insignificant: everything is a bonus.

“I really am unwavering, because if I were beaten 10-0 I would go out and say ‘Lovely, shall we go for a drink?’ That’s how we should all be, people take sport too seriously. Walking downstairs with the crowd doesn’t really get the juices flowing, I don’t get excited like I used to, but I’m here to do a job.

“It’s nice to get some whoops from the crowd, it’s a good feeling because you know when you’ve played a good shot by the response.”

The arena setup has been livened up in the UK this year, regaining some of its lost prestige as the first major of the season. And O’Sullivan, who has been extremely critical of venues in the past, added: “We’ve gotten used to four tables and 128 players and all that, so you come here and it’s like ‘Don’t coddle me.’

“Unless they maintain this level all the time and never go back to the way they were before. I mean having a tournament like this once in a while is not good enough for me. If each of them were like that, great. If not, I would almost prefer that they were all as before.

Stevens said: “I had chances in the match, but if you don’t take them against Ronnie, especially when he plays like that, then you’re not going to win.”

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