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O'Sullivan: World bid will be tough
Ronnie O'Sullivan will spend the coming months readying himself for a tilt at a third successive world title after winning the Masters on Sunday night.
The Essex cueman beat old nemesis Mark Selby 10-4 to crown a dominant week at Alexandra Palace, in which none of his rivals were able to lay a hand on him.
It was a similar scene to what happened as he won his 2012 and 2013 world crowns in Sheffield, with all the evidence suggesting that the 38-year-old is getting better with age.
That should be a warning to his rivals, especially as he was considered by some to be the greatest player of all time when he was not performing so consistently.
"It's crazy, before everyone was saying 'he's going to win it, he can't lose' but I knew there were some tough matches," he told World Snooker TV.
"It will be the same in Sheffield. It's going to be tough. Seventeen days is hard to hold it together, anything can happen and we will see what happens."
O'Sullivan won the first of his five Masters titles as a teenager way back in 1995; a time when his legend with supporters started to form.
He remains as popular as ever now, but says the triumphs feel differently to how they did then.
"As you get older you appreciate it a bit more," he added.
"You're younger, you're fearless and go for shots. If you lose, you're out with the lads. Now it's home, recover and you probably appreciate it more as you get older."
Few could believe that O'Sullivan managed to see off Selby so easily.
He has labelled the Leicester man as 'The Torturer' over recent months, referencing what he believes to be Selby's style of play.
True or not, Selby has been a thorn in O'Sullivan's side in finals, taking three of them in last-frame deciders.
"I'm over the moon and I congratulate Mark on a fantastic tournament," he said.
"I am over the moon to have got through and won.
"I expected a 10-7, 8, 9 and I was up for a hard, gruelling battle to be fair. I just kept my focus and my mind and stayed present."
O'Sullivan's week in London was memorable not only for the trophy but for his 58-minute whitewash of Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals.
The Chester man was blown away as O'Sullivan produced snooker rarely seen before.
"That was just one where I played fantastic, near-perfect snooker," he said.
"But I am not always going to play like that because if you did, you'd never lose.
"But I was able to maintain a high enough standard to win this tournament.
"I've had a couple of worlds on the bounce, the Champions Cup, this one and when I've been playing, I've been consistent."