Ronnie O’Sullivan may have only played one match in the current snooker season, but there is a strong possibility that the 8/1 that he successfully defends his World Championship title at the Crucible this year won’t last long.
The Rocket’s only match ended in defeat to unknown Simon Bedford in Gloucester, but for a player that needs to be in the right frame of mind to play well, it was clear that he was mentally wrong that day.
However, despite getting engaged to actress Laila Rouass in his time off, O’Sullivan clearly needs more things to fill his time, with the pick of the lines from a press conference being “I was bored, it is time to get back”.
Based on the conference, O’Sullivan is not expecting big things at the Crucible, but despite indicating that he “might get smashed” in terms of scoreline, it is unlikely that he would return if he wasn’t prepared to take snooker seriously for at least a few months.
The bad news for O’Sullivan is that no player has successfully defended a Crucible title since Stephen Hendry’s run of five straight titles between 1992 and 1996.
If focused appropriately, a lack of competitive table time may not hold O’Sullivan back as he is widely considered to be the most naturally gifted snooker player ever.
Furthermore, it is unknown how much practice O’Sullivan has done in his sabbatical from the game.
There are four players ahead of O’Sullivan in the current World Championships betting, with Judd Trump, Mark Selby, John Higgins and Neil Robertson all priced at 11/2.
A victory for the Rocket would be his fifth at the Crucible and take him ahead of Higgins, leaving Hendry, Ray Reardon and Steve Davis as the only players to have won the title more since the 1970s.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.