Snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan has taken a leaf out of the playbook of tennis veterans like Roger Federer and Serena Williams and is adapting his game to compete with players much younger than him.
In a talk with Eurosport, on the sidelines of the Welsh Open, he added that while winning is a welcome addition to competing, just playing – as evidenced by Federer – can be enough.
“Does Federer need to play?” the six-time world champion said. “Probably not but he probably quite enjoys getting out of the house.”
“I can’t compete with the younger players. They pot too good and have a lot of cue power.
“It is like tennis, a lot of the older players like Serena Williams, Federer, Nadal. You have these young guys coming so they are not going to have it their own way as much, so you have to adapt.”
O’Sullivan defeated Mark Williams 6-1 in the semifinals on Saturday to enter his sixth Welsh Open final. The Englishman is the first man to record a 1000 century breaks in his career and is the most decorated snooker player in the world.
At the age of 45, though, the maverick is still looking to adapt and stay in touch with competition. O’Sullivan claims to have gone back to a technique that served him so well earlier in his career, and is happy with the changes.
“I’ve changed my technique a bit as I wasn’t able to manoeuvre the white,” he said.
“Was I happy to accept playing solid stuff that I did not think was good enough to win events? So I went back to the way I was playing 2011 to 2017 – a bit inconsistent but when it was good it was decent.
“I would rather have a few good tournaments than a load of mediocre ones.
“I am never going to compete with these young kids at long potting and safety, and youth, so I have to play to my strengths and it is trying to be creative.
“I had seven years where I was striking it solid, scoring heavy and winning a lot of tournaments.”
O’Sullivan, who has now been a professional snooker player for 29 years, will take on 33-year-old Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open finals on Sunday.
Meanwhile, 20-time major champion Federer is set to make a comeback at the Qatar Open in March. The 39-year-old Swiss last played at the 2020 Australian Open and has been recovering from two knee surgeries.