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September 19, 2020

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Ronnie O’Sullivan backed for World Snooker Championship after first round rout

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Ronnie O’Sullivan laid down a marker in round one of the World Snooker Championship (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 10-1 demolition of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in round one of the World Snooker Championship has seen him widely backed to claim a sixth world title this year.

The Rocket was in sparkling form as he destroyed the Thai star, setting the record for the shortest ever World Championship match at 108 minutes.

The 44-year-old made two centuries, 101 and 115, and six half-centuries in a beautifully fluent performance, averaging just 14 seconds-per-shot over the match.

O’Sullivan went into the tournament as second favourite behind Judd Trump with most bookmakers, and while he remains there with some, tournament sponsors Betfred have now slashed his price to the shortest of any player.

As the Rocket obliterated the Speed King in Sheffield, money poured in on him lifting the trophy and Betfred now make Ronnie the 5/2 favourite, ahead of Trump at 11/4.

Old rival Ali Carter put their differences aside to back O’Sullivan for World Championship glory, believing the empty Crucible suits him down to the ground, although he shouldn’t expect any more world titles in the future.

‘For me, this no crowd scenario favours the Rocket big time. I think he wins it this year. And will be his last,’ tweeted the Captain.

Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry also appears to be leaning towards his old rival the Rocket, when asked who his prediction for the World Championship is.

The Scot replied: ‘Best I’ve seen Ronnie look at Sheffield for years.’

O’Sullivan feels the lack of crowd is a huge benefit to him, not only in the Crucible, but in how he spends the 17 days of the tournament away from the venue.

‘I know it sounds mad, but I actually prefer it, I don’t have to deal with the pressure of the crowd or the expectation,’ the Rocket told the BBC after beating Thepchaiya.

‘Being at the venue and just being around so much less is put on my shoulders. In a way I’m just on a bit of a holiday buzz really.

‘It’s the first time I’ve been actually able to stay in a hotel close to the venue, normally it’s full of snooker fans, it’s pretty hard for me to get any peace and quiet.

‘It’s how I live my life, I’m very private, I don’t really socialise much anyway, everybody’s welcomed to my world, everything’s slowed down, this suits my way of life in many ways.

‘I’ve managed to come here and win my first match, It’s all I wanted to do, win my first match, I didn’t have any expectations other than that, so I’m just pleased to get through.’

O’Sullivan faces Ding Junhui, in what promises to be a superb encounter, in the second round over Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan destroys Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-1 in record-breaking World Snooker Championship masterclass

MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan: My success is driven by fear and crippling self-doubt

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