Ronnie O’Sullivan believes only one other player can stake a claim for seizing his mantle as the greatest snooker player of all-time, writes Will Jennings.
O’Sullivan sits third on the list of overall World Championship titles, with Stephen Hendry at the summit on seven and both Steve Davis and Ray Reardon joint in second on six.
And the Rocket has soared to 36 ranking event titles since his first at the UK Championship back in 1993, capturing the imagination of snooker fans far and wide with his thrilling potting prowess.
The world No.6 no longer dominates the game like he once did but is content in the knowledge only one man can claim to have ever trumped him with a cue in hand.
“If I’m not the greatest player that’s ever played the game then there’s probably only one other player who can claim that mantle,” the 44-year-old said.
“And that would be Stephen Hendry.
“For me, it’s about just having fun with the game, winning and losing, take that out of it and I have nothing to prove - my CV’s great.
“I’ve got nothing to prove as a snooker player and for me it’s about just having fun, enjoying the game and enjoying being at the tournaments.
“And enjoying knowing that if I did put my head down and played a full schedule, I probably would be still one of the best players and as dominant as anyone could be dominant in their sport!”
O’Sullivan’s selective approach when it comes to tournaments saw him only rank 18th in the season standings at the recent cut-off date, missing out on qualification for the Tour Championship where world No.9 Stephen Maguire reigned supreme.
But the Rocket is invariably in the mix for the tournaments he does enter, as he now eyes up a tilt at a sixth World Championship title to place him on parity with both Davis and Reardon.
O’Sullivan is hoping to channel the spirit of 2012 at the Crucible and says he loves the idea of rocking up at events knowing he’s a player the others wants to avoid.
“I get a thrill out of turning up and if I’m on it, knowing that everyone thinks ‘I don’t really want to draw him!’” he added.
“A bit like when I won, the World Championships in 2012, I was lucky to make the top 16 and I was seeded 14.
“But as the tournament went on I thought ‘no one’s going to beat me here!’ you know what I’m saying?”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July – 16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.