Champion of Champions 2021 LIVE updates – Ronnie O’Sullivan begins quest for fourth title

Stay tuned to live comments from Desmond Kane at 12:45 GMT

‘My love for snooker is stronger than ever’ – O’Sullivan relishing chance to set new record

Ronnie O’Sullivan will begin his bid to claim a record fourth Champion of Champions title against Stuart Bingham on Thursday afternoon with his passion and panache for potting balls showing no signs of wilting.

For a figure who has seen and done it all in snooker since turning professional in 1992, Rocket Ronnie’s love of the ancient old game sounds as strong as ever.

The six-times world champion admits he loved his battle with time-honoured foe John Higgins in the semi-finals of the English Open in Milton Keynes last week despite losing 6-5, but is hopeful he can maintain his form in Bolton as he bids to end his 15-month wait for a trophy.

O’Sullivan could face Higgins for a semi-final spot in Group 3 on Thursday night and is feeling in fine fettle only two months before he enters his 30th year as a professional still at the summit of the sport.

It is perhaps fitting that the snooker GOAT enjoys a spot of green baize grazing when he is far from the madding crowd.

“I had a great week last week and really enjoyed the match with John. I loved being in Milton Keynes, loved running and of course I loved playing,” said O’Sullivan.

“I sometimes prefer the punditry side and sitting on the sofa watching snooker these days.

“Even when I’m not playing at a tournament, I’ll get my tea and sit on the sofa to watch it with my friends.

I’ll say to them: ‘Listen, the snooker is on this week so we’ll get our fitness stuff done, but at 1pm the snooker is on and at 7pm the evening session starts. I want to watch it.

“We’ll do the gym and the running work in the morning, but I always love watching it. I love to see what the other guys are up to. It is great.”

O’Sullivan won the first of three Champion of Champion titles when he defeated Bingham 10-8 in the 2013 final, two years before Bingham usurped O’Sullivan 13-9 in the last eight on his way to claiming the world title in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan defeated Judd Trump 10-7 a year later before outlasting Kyren Wilson 10-9 in the 2018 final.

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