Ronnie O’Sullivan reacts to Ryan Day admitting scars of past defeat

Ronnie O’Sullivan is looking to serve up another painful defeat (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan says it is simply the nature of sport to dish out painful defeats after Ryan Day admits he was scarred by a Crucible defeat to the Rocket 18 years ago.

The Rocket and Dynamite meet again in Sheffield this year, in what sounds like an explosive contest if their monikers are anything to go by.

Their only previous clash at the World Championship was a good one, with O’Sullivan prevailed 13-10, but only after Day was looking good at 9-7 ahead.

The Welshman remembers the game extremely well, saying: ‘I was a lot younger, less experienced, only the second time I played here. I beat Joe Perry in the first match. I remember being 9-7 up and then I got ahead of myself and was thinking here’s a chance to beat O’Sullivan on the biggest stage.

‘I remember there were a couple of shots. One in particular, I had a free ball and miscued on the pink, jumped it and it went off in the corner pocket. From there the wheels came off.’

Day admits that there are lasting effects of defeats like that one, saying: ‘It was such a big match at that time. These place gives you lots of great memories and lots of scars. That was certainly one of the scars. It’s not physical on your skin but it is lodged away somewhere deep in the recess of your mind.

‘It’s such a long time ago since we last met here. When you lose big matches and especially close ones, where you have had opportunities to win, it always leaves scar tissue.’

Ryan Day pushed O’Sullivan hard back in 2006 (Picture: Getty Images)

O’Sullivan has been handing out nightmare losses to people for over 30 years and, while he does have a tinge of sympathy for them, it is only a tinge.

‘Not really,’ the Rocket said if he felt sympathy for his scarred opponents. ‘It’s the nature of the sport and it’s what you’re involved in.

‘It’s quite unforgiving out there on the tour. It’s really tough on the tour, I took a lot of poundings over the years as a junior and amateur, it just makes you stronger.

‘It’s tough. I support all the guys on the tour because I know it’s tough. No matter where you are there’s always someone chasing you or you’re trying to stay ahead of the next guy. It’s very competitive.’

Day has beaten O’Sullivan twice in their nine meetings as professionals (Picture: Getty Images)

Day will go into the match, starting on Sunday, as a lengthy underdog but he is looking forward to it, especially after impressively reeling off the final five frames in his first round win over Barry Hawkins.

Despite the scars of the past, the Welshman is taking inspiration from O’Sullivan and how he is still on top of the sport at 48 years old.

‘It has been remarkable. O’Sullivan’s longevity is off the charts,’ said Day. ‘The Class of 92 that everyone talks about. Probably three of the top four or five greatest players that have ever played. To still be doing it at 48 or 49 is mesmerising.

‘I’m 44. I am no spring chicken. I can maybe take a bit of hope from that. I cannot wait to get a crack at O’Sullivan. Look, the greatest player ever. I have got to worry about what I can control and see where that takes me.’

Day is working with coach Chris Henry and feels that their focus on the strike of the ball, even over whether it goes in the pocket or not, is paying off.

A focussed effort on what they have been working on improves his ball-striking and can help conquer anxiousness that has crept into his game over the years.

On how he felt in his opening win over Hawkins, he said: ‘It was a lot of thinking but not about the outcome of the shot. It was a lot of thinking about what we have been working on myself and Chris for a long time.

‘Especially the last three or four weeks, leading up to the qualifying, and this week. Just literally not even caring if the ball goes in. That’s a by-product of what you are working on. It works and pays dividends.

‘I feel as though I am hitting the ball as well I have done for a long time the last three weeks.

‘If you get carried away with yourself, at the age I am, I struggle with getting a bit anxiety and [feeling] nervous. If I am purely focused on what I can control and a couple of things during the shot that kind of helps.

‘The strike of the ball relays good thoughts and good feedback – that helps with the anxiety.’


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