Rocket Ronnie: Only a select few can be considered great

Ronnie O’Sullivan will embrace the pressure that comes with his latest World Championship campaign and says Tiger Woods’ recent Masters triumph is proof that sport’s true greats should never be written off.

Woods ended a Major drought of over a decade with victory in Augusta this week while O’Sullivan returns to the Crucible as a strong favourite to clinch his first world crown since 2013.

At the age of 43 and having regained the world number one ranking earlier this season, O’Sullivan, who will start against amateur qualifier James Cahill on Monday, is bullish about his chances of adding to his trophy haul.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the favourite in Sheffield (Steven Paston/PA)

O’Sullivan said: “I think if you don’t feel pressure you’re probably not going to perform well. The reason why Tiger Woods and Usain Bolt produce such fantastic performances is that they raise their level because of the pressure.

“It is great to watch true greatness. There’s a lot of people around sport who get spoken of in great terms but they are not actually great – they are just very, very good.

“There’s probably just five or six sports people on the planet who you should never really write off.

Tiger Woods is a rare breed, says O’Sullivan (Matt Slocum/AP)

“Sport’s not just about the ability to do it, it’s about the courage and the mentality and the confidence to stamp the authority on the game and make other people not play to their full potential.”

O’Sullivan faces a tough task if he is to equal the six career world titles won by Steve Davis and Ray Reardon and move within one of the all-time record of seven held by Stephen Hendry.

In Cahill he faces a player who beat Mark Selby at this season’s UK Championships, and he is likely to also have to edge Judd Trump and Ding Junhui in order to advance from his half of the draw.

- Press Association

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