Reigning world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan attributed a stunning first-round comeback win over Ding Junhui at The Masters in Milton Keynes to his physical and mental health.
Having trailed 3-1 at the mid-session interval, the 45-year-old looked down and out at 5-3 behind in the best-of-11 encounter at the Marshall Arena.
But the Rocket — who has 37 ranking event titles to his name in addition to seven Masters wins — responded by claiming the match’s final three frames, with two half-centuries in tow, to eventually prevail 6-5.
“I’m probably the fittest I’ve been for 10 years,” said O’Sullivan, the World No.3. “I’m running 45 miles a week at the moment, and I’m more excited about that than anything else, really.
“I’m trying to get up to 60 miles a week if I can, while potting a few balls and enjoying the snooker. It was nice to pot a few balls today and get the result.
“When it’s not going your way in a big match, you’ve just got to suck it up sometimes. I never doubt my ability to stick in there — I’m Premier League in the mentality department.”
Despite Judd Trump being absent from the tournament and the fact the likes of Neil Robertson and Mark Selby have already fallen in Buckinghamshire, O’Sullivan isn’t expecting an easy ride in The Masters’ latter stages.
But having committed a considerable number of hours to the practice table amid the coronavirus pandemic, he is hopeful he will start to reap the rewards over the coming weeks and months.
O’Sullivan added: “I don’t pay a lot of attention to who goes out and when because it’s getting harder to win tournaments with a lot of players in their prime. It never works out how it’s supposed to — that’s just sport.
“There’s not been a lot else to do recently so I’ve been on the practice table for six hours a day religiously for three weeks. If it doesn’t come off at this tournament, hopefully it will at another one soon.”
World No.9 Ding added: “I had good chances to win the match but did not take them. I sometimes made it complicated to win frames, I just needed to take simple shots and take the points. I sometimes confused myself.”
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