Green baize legend Steve Davis believes reigning world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan can dominate the sport into his 40s.
Crowd-pleaser O’Sullivan has already won five Crucible crowns and is chasing down Davis’ six world titles when the Dafabet World Championship kicks off in Sheffield this weekend (April 19 – May 5).
And Davis has no doubts the ‘Rocket’, aged 38, has enough years to equal – or even better - Stephen Hendry’s illustrious record of seven world titles.
“He [Ronnie] will be trying to equal my tally of world titles this year, and at one time he said himself it was not something he was capable of doing,” said Davis.
“But he is not far off threatening Stephen Hendry’s record of seven now. He is fitter than anyone on the tour, and has more talent than anyone on the tour.
“He is actually the one, not me or Stephen, who is set to push the boundaries of winning world titles in his 40s.
“No one has got close to winning it at 40 since Ray Reardon. Maybe he could be the first player in the modern-day game to win a world title at 45.”
Davis, 56, suffered disappointment this week when he dropped off the professional tour after an incredible 36 years.
The ‘Nugget’ needed to win his first round Crucible qualifying clash with Manchester cueman Craig Steadman to keep his professional status.
But Davis has yet to decide whether he will hang up his cue for good and is now relishing the prospect of watching to see whether O’Sullivan can equal his haul of world titles come May 5 at the Crucible.
“Ronnie will set time away to be fully focused before the tournament, as he did last year going to Sheffield for a few days, and he will be very strong,” stressed Davis.
“What Ronnie did last year was like a boxer in many ways, going away for specific amount of time before a big fight.
“He had no other worries in the world. It was sensible last year, and I understand he is doing it again.”