Ronnie O’Sullivan on sharing Formula One great Ayrton Senna’s winning mentality: ‘I think you’re born with it’

Ayrton Senna struck fear into Formula One drivers far and wide – and Ronnie O’Sullivan reckons he does the same to players on the snooker table.

The Brazilian racing great stormed to a thrilling treble of F1 world titles between 1988 and 1991, with his final crowning glory on the track preceding O’Sullivan’s maiden title at the Crucible by exactly ten years.

Senna’s Suzuka hegemony that year was exactly 5,842 miles – as the crow flies – from Sheffield but a 15-year-old Rocket was keeping close tabs from afar, bidding to channel the spirit of the F1 great as he embarked on his stunning snooker career.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

The 44-year-old has gone on to claim 36 ranking events since and believes he and Senna have a similar impact on opponents.

“At the end of the day you can have as much ability as you like, and practice for as many hours as you like, but you can’t give someone that edge,” he told Eurosport.

“It’s a bit like having Ayrton Senna in your back wing mirror – whether there’s a crowd there or not, you just think ‘I can feel him breathing down my neck’.

“I think you’re born with it – Tiger Woods, Ayrton Senna and you look at all great sportsman, they come along with it and they just thrive in that atmosphere.

“Everybody works equally as hard, everyone puts the 10,000 hours in and everybody eats right and does whatever, but some people are just gifted in certain areas.

“I always think winners will always be winners and the others will always make up the numbers – they might win the tournament if the snooker gods are looking down on them but there are only a few players who can get wins when they’re not supposed to win.”

O’Sullivan stormed to further world titles in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 but has failed to progress past the last eight at the Crucible since 2014, as his wait to narrow the gap on Stephen Hendry’s record seven titles goes on.

He has the chance to put that right at the Betfred World Championship at the end of this month, however, enduring a bumpy season on the circuit but going into the pinnacle of the snooker calendar ranked world No.6.

The Rocket is yet to find out his first-round opponent but with a potential last 16-clash against world No11 Ding Junhui looming, he reckons that idiosyncratic flair at the table will never leave him.

“When I’m playing well people go ‘keep him tight, do this’ but somehow I find a way of getting in and 40 minutes later they’re 6-1 down and thinking ‘what’s happened?’” he added.

“It’s because you impose your type of game on someone because you can, and that’s the type of pressure – whether there’s a crowd or not – that it’s about whether these opponents can deal with.

“If they can’t then they obviously need to go away to the drawing board and make yourself a better player so you can end up doing that to opponents.

“That’s how you win tournaments, really.”

Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship and qualifying from 21 July – 16 August.

Source: Read Full Article