Ronnie O’Sullivan does not think he has spoiled Stephen Hendry’s birthday by equalling his all-time record for century breaks.
O’Sullivan’s 116 in frame 10 of his Masters first-round clash with Ricky Walden not only wrapped up a 6-4 win but was the 775th ton of his career, taking him alongside Hendry.
It came on the Scot’s 46th birthday and with him on duty in the BBC studio, but he was all smiles in the post-match interview and said: “It was a matter of time.”
And O’Sullivan told reporters at Alexandra Palace: “I don’t think he’s that bothered to be honest, as long as he has the seven world titles – I think that’s the one that means more to him than anything.”
Hendry still stands alone in terms of World Championship wins in the modern era, one ahead of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon with O’Sullivan on five.
O’Sullivan continued: “I’ve been thinking about (the centuries record) since I got within striking distance and I’m glad I’ve equalled it but it’s more about winning this tournament now.
“There’s a lot of expectation because I’ve won back-to-back tournaments (the UK Championship and Champion of Champions) and I’m going for a third.
“There’s a lot of pressure because the crowd in London want to see me do well. It’s great to have that support but it comes with that pressure because I want to keep them happy and keep winning.”
The first-round clash looked all but over at 5-1 following the first of O’Sullivan’s two centuries in the match, a round 100.
But his Cheshire opponent reeled off three straight frames – including one in which he needed two snookers – and the reigning champion was looking tense.
The opportunity came in frame 10, though, and O’Sullivan was well past the winning post when an outlandish fluke on the yellow kept alive his run to a moment of history.
“I could have had it earlier on,” he told BBC Sport. “You start to make silly mistakes when you are chasing a record and you end up doing it on a fluke!”
O’Sullivan next plays Hong Kong’s Marco Fu – who made a 147 in his first-round win over Stuart Bingham – on Thursday.
The Chigwell cueman has won this title and the UK Championship on five occasions each, with December’s win in the latter coming despite playing on a broken ankle – the effects of which he admits he is still feeling.
“The foot was bit sore, I didn’t have my brace on,” he said. “I put it on at the break and it felt a bit more stable.”