• Snooker

Returning Rocket talking up retirement, again

ESPN staff
October 25, 2012
World beater: Ronnie O'Sullivan won the biggest prize in snooker for a fourth time in May © PA Photos

Ronnie O'Sullivan returns to action in China next week, but motivation is an issue for the world champion.

O'Sullivan is widely regarded as the most naturally-gifted player snooker has ever seen, he has four world titles to his name, but he has often struggled to retain focus. He shrugged off a couple of lean seasons to win the World Championship in Sheffield this year.

The 36-year-old had barely lowered the trophy when he announced that he would be taking a break, citing scheduling demands as the reason behind his decision. O'Sullivan has threatened retirement in the past, only to not follow it through. This time, though, he was true to his word and has spent six months on the sidelines.

He admits he has struggled to motivate himself in practice and is not expecting much when he takes his place in the field for the International Championship in Chengdu.

"I am struggling to get back into it and I am regretting signing up even for the tournaments I have done," O'Sullivan, known as the Rocket, told the Times. "I'm finding it very difficult.

"Last year I had a massive push at it. Everyone knew how difficult it was for me, but I gave it one last go with my top-16 place under threat. I won in Berlin, had a good finish to the season, capping it with a fantastic 17 days in Sheffield.

"It is not coming easily for me to want to practice, which is unusual for me. It is not going how I thought it would."

O'Sullivan has repeatedly spoken about retirement and he has raised the prospect again. "I will play in these three: Chengdu, the UK (Championship) and the Masters and see how they go, and maybe January's Masters will be my last.

"I am finding the reality very hard and, with hindsight, it would have been best to enter nothing."

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