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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Fraser Watson

Stephen Hendry lifts lid on Ronnie O'Sullivan's behind-the-scenes relationship with rivals

Stephen Hendry has claimed that Ronnie O'Sullivan doesn't speak to his rivals before matches as 'The Rocket' gears up to win an unprecedented eighth world snooker title next year.

In May, O'Sullivan defeated Judd Trump to claim his seventh crown, drawing him level with the iconic Scot. And at 46, few would bet against the world No 1 surpassing that marker at the Crucible in 2023.

The English star is renowned for his charismatic ways around the table, regularly switching to play left handed in the past and once refusing to complete a 147 in protest to the prize money on offer. However, Hendry has likened O'Sullivan to himself in his prime, adopting a sultry approach towards opponents.

Speaking about changes in the game on his YouTube channel with fellow world champion Mark Williams, he joked that making friends sparked a downturn in his form: “You were probably part of my downfall,” Hendry told the Welshman.

“I didn’t have any friends and didn’t speak to anyone then you came on the scene and started annoying me, saying, ‘Speak to me Stephen, speak to me.’ You led me astray."

Steve Davis was another to enjoy a dominant era in the sport, and like Hendry, was famed for his intense focus and refusal to indulge in friendship: “The game now has changed from me and Steve Davis being too miserable," he added.

O'Sullivan poses with the trophy after his victory over Judd Trump at The Crucible (AFP via Getty Images)

"The only one I don’t see speaking to anyone is Ronnie. Everyone else does, even before the match, having a laugh.” Williams responded: “Ronnie speaks to you when he feels like it really. Most of them get on."

On Sunday, the Wordsley born star claimed his fourth Champion of Champions title, beating Judd Trump 10-6 in the final despite his opponent notching a 147 break. And afterwards, he issued a comical warning to rivals ahead of the UK Championship in York, an event he has already won seven times.

"I’ve been on a roll for 30 years," O'Sullivan joked when told he is now on a roll. "I’ve got seven of them so I suppose eight sounds good, could always do with another one I suppose."

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