Snooker legend Ray Reardon is tipping Ronnie O’Sullivan to win 10 world titles and believes he should change his nickname from ‘The Rocket’ to ‘The Magician’.
Reardon, who has been acting as O’Sullivan’s mentor in recent months and played an invaluable part in helping The Rocket lift his second Embassy Championship crown against Graeme Dott said: “He is the most natural player I have ever seen.”
And the six-times world champion believes that O’Sullivan can dominate in the same way he did in the 1970s, Steve Davis in the 1980s and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s.
Reardon told the Press Association: “The Rocket is a great name but The Magician should be Ronnie’s name because he conjures up spells with the way he plays.
“I’ve seen a lot of great pros – Joe and Fred Davis, John Pulman, John Spencer, Alex Higgins and I wasn’t too bad myself.
“The great Steve Davis dominated the 1980s and Stephen Hendry followed on with seven world titles and is a brilliant player – absolutely outstanding.
“But Ronnie is the most natural player I’ve ever seen in my life. He is superb. He is only 28 and I reckon he has got 10 world titles in him. He is sensational. He is going to take some stopping.”
Reardon has also been instrumental in O’Sullivan playing more often left-handed and he is considering switching from his right-handed role for the 2004-2005 season if practice goes well in the summer.
Reardon said: “I couldn’t understand why he didn’t use his left hand more often because he plays so well with it. I said to him ‘God has given you this gift Ronnie, use it’. “
O’Sullivan has strongly hinted that he would like his partnership with Reardon to become permanent – the but that may not fit the criteria of the Welshman.
O’Sullivan said: “Ray Reardon has been great. I never watched Ray play but I can imagine his game must have been similar to mine for his era.
“In his day he would have been more like Stephen Hendry and myself, in liking to score heavy breaks – but with a touch of Steve Davis in there.
“He calls the game of snooker the safety side if it. I call snooker getting 100 breaks! So we both have different ways of seeing the game.
“But he respects my way of playing and I respect his way and his input has been invaluable. I’ve taken it on board and hopefully will carry on taking it on board.
“I think it could be a permanent relationship. We get on really well. That’s the key really. I enjoy his company, he enjoys mine.
“We don’t take it too seriously. We’re like two little kids on the snooker table. It’s up to Ray whether he comes around all the tournaments. It’s early days and who knows?
“I’m not going to tell you what he says to me because that is private. It’s professional stuff. It’s M15 stuff. They don’t disclose their secrets and I don’t wish to disclose mine.
“I’ve asked a couple of former players in my time to help me and they said ‘no’ and Ray said ‘yes’. It’s worked for Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry.”
Reardon said: “Will I be with Ronnie every tournament? I don’t know. I said I would come up to Sheffield and be of service if we gelled and he stopped some of his histrionics.
“But all tournaments? That’s another story. It’s nice on the golf course, it’s nice in Torquay where I live and I don’t want to go travelling all around the country.”