Sheffield Crucible: Why I can’t wait to see the Rocket

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan

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The excitement has been building and building – and no wonder because the ‘Rocket’ is back in town.

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan kicks off his Betfair.com World Championship title defence in Sheffield tomorrow.

And, like many snooker fans out there, I can’t wait to see what happens.

You never know what you’re going to get with Ronald Antonio O’Sullivan , he is as unpredictable on the table as he is off it.

But that’s a great reason for his attraction. It’s not just his brilliance with a cue – whether it be right or left-handed – it’s also his controversial comments, erratic behaviour and unquestionable love-hate relationship with snooker which keeps us all engrossed in what he is going to do next.

And it’s not surprising all eyes will be on the green baize game’s box office star, the man tipped to be the greatest snooker player of all time by legendary Jimmy White.

Especially because it’s his first match at a major ranking tournament following a 12-month self-imposed exile.

Barring a surprise defeat in a minor ranking tournament in September, O’Sullivan has not played in a ranking tournament since he blew away the field at last year’s World Championship.

He may be the most naturally-gifted player to have picked up a cue – and shown what he can do with it – but even by his own admission “it could be car crash, it could be good”.

I personally think it’s going to be good.

It could be great. On his day 37-year-old Ronnie is the man to beat – and his fellow professionals know it.

No disrespect to his first round opponent this time around, but the four-time world champion has too much class for 40-year-old Scottish qualifier Marcus Campbell.

Victory in that best-of-19 frame opener over ‘The Dumbarton Destroyer’ will give O’Sullivan chance to play his way into the tournament before a potential last 16 with Ali Carter, a player he has rarely struggled against.

O’Sullivan hammered Carter 18-11 to win his fourth world title last season, having thumped ‘The Captain’ 18-8 to win the coveted Crucible crown at Sheffield in 2008.

And with two matches under his belt it could be John Higgins, his fellow four-time Crucible champion and arch-rival, who he could potentially meet in the quarter-finals providing both seeds progress to that stage.

What a match that would be for the appreciative and knowledgeable Sheffield snooker crowd.

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