Ronnie O’Sullivan has told heir apparent Judd Trump he must win the Betfred World Championship in the next three years or he may never get his hands on the trophy.
Five-time champion O’Sullivan landed his first Crucible title at the age of 25 in 2001, at the ninth time of trying, before making it a regular habit.
He considers 26-year-old Trump equipped to mount a serious challenge for snooker’s premier silverware over the next 17 days in Sheffield. But O’Sullivan suspects the pressure will only increase if Trump, who was runner-up to John Higgins in 2011, misses out this year.
Asked if Trump has what it takes, O’Sullivan said: “Absolutely. He’s 26 and he’s at the prime age now to push on.
“If he’s going to make it happen he’s got to make it happen in the next two or three years, because once you go into your 30s and you haven’t won the world title, and then there’s a new batch of young players coming through from China, from here, there and everywhere, you can start to think ‘maybe I might not’ — and the pressure gets more and more.”
“Sometimes it’s not about the best player who wins this tournament, it’s the guy who can hold himself together and play solid snooker.”
Trump played his own brand of “naughty snooker” in 2011 when he went closest to landing the biggest prize in the sport. The aggressive long-potting game made him an immediate crowd favourite and the Bristol-born cueman remains hugely popular, arguably second only to O’Sullivan with the thousands who flock to the Crucible.
While O’Sullivan begins against David Gilbert tomorrow, Trump must wait until Wednesday to tackle Liang Wenbo, the Chinese player who beat him at the UK Championship in December.
“I’ve got enough experience now,” Trump said.
“There’s no reason anymore why I shouldn’t be winning here. I’m not too young, it’s not come too early now, so there’s no more excuses. I’ve had my five or 10 years of growing up.”
The £330,000 (€292,000) top prize would be a welcome bonus, but Trump does not need the money at this stage of his life. Joining the ranks of the world champions is his objective.
“In my eyes, it’s 10 times bigger than the other tournaments,” Trump said.
“To win it this year would be extra special.”
Today sees Bingham begin his defence with a tricky opener against two-time runner-up Ali Carter.
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