• Snooker

Hearn hopeful of O'Sullivan return

ESPN staff
January 21, 2013

Barry Hearn remains hopeful that Ronnie O'Sullivan will defend his World Snooker Championship title in April.

The 37-year-old announced in November he would miss the rest of the season for personal reasons, but World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn retains hope O'Sullivan could go for a fifth world title at The Crucible.

O'Sullivan sparked rumours of a comeback when he made a surprise appearance at The Masters last week at Alexandra Palace, but Hearn remains guarded and claims the former world No. 1 is unlikely to make a decision until the final hour.

"He has until 28 February. He knows the date and it's up to him," Hearn told BBC Sport. "If I know Ronnie I think the reason he came Saturday night is because he's sitting at home watching it on telly saying 'I used to be good at that game'.

"He's got a lot of issues he's trying to clear up. He knows the sport doesn't revolve around one person, but he knows we love him and we miss him. He's probably thought about coming back for the World Championship but you can't ever say what Ronnie is really thinking. He does tend to change his mind every 24 hours."

O'Sullivan, who is occupying himself by volunteering at a farm three days a week, acknowledged recently that a return to action at The Crucible this year is not out of the question.

"There are personal things I need to sort out before I can even think of a return," O'Sullivan told the Sun. "I have until February to make that decision about the Crucible, anyway. But I am still playing every couple of weeks at my mum's house."

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