Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

World Snooker Championship: O’Sullivan on song as Allen grinds out lead

Mark Allen, lining up a pot against Matthew Stevens last night at the Crucible, resumes tonight 5-4 behind

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes he may have struck on the cure for his snooker malaise but admits bringing in a sports psychiatrist represents the “last throw of the dice” for his career.

O'Sullivan delivered a 40-minute masterclass to demolish Welshman Dominic Dale yesterday, converting a 7-2 overnight lead to a 10-2 victory with stunning breaks of 115, 96 and 100.

The 35-year-old suggested the first match of his 19th Betfred.com World Championship campaign was the most satisfying he has ever played at the Crucible.

O'Sullivan declined to go into detail about the conversations he has been having with Dr Steve Peters, who worked with Britain's successful cycling team at the 2008 Olympic Games and currently helps Team Sky riders.

However his form spoke volumes as he won a ranking event match for the first time since September's World Open, and his positivity afterwards was refreshing.

“I'm not going to disclose what it is, but I've made it pretty clear I've been to see someone and let's just say it was a positive thing for me to do, because obviously I want to carry on playing,” O'Sullivan said.

“It's nothing to do with making me a better snooker player but just allowing me to be like 99 per cent of the other players. I just want to be on a level playing field.”

Bringing in Peters is not the first move O'Sullivan has made to revive a dwindling interest in competing, but it might prove the most successful.

O'Sullivan said: “I've taken steps by employing new coaches, sport psychologists, just to try to keep the motivation to play there. One day it might click and this is the last throw of the dice as far as I'm concerned.

“It has been a bit of a shift in the last week or so. It doesn't mean I'm going to go on and win this tournament or the next tournaments but if I can get back to enjoying playing again and being out there, that's the most important thing for me.”

Yesterday he achieved his 100th century break at the World Championship and twice threatened to make maximum breaks, while Dale's poor potting often presented him with easy opening reds.

Meanwhile, Antrim’s Mark Allen will resume tonight against Welshman Matthew Stevens trailing just 5-4.

Allen has been receiving treatment for depression but plays to a finish tonight with every chance of securing a last-16 clash against Barry Hawkins.

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