RONNIE O’Sullivan revealed how he had to whisk sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters away from Premier League champions-elect Liverpool in order to stage a remarkable comeback at the Crucible.
O’Sullivan, bidding for his third consecutive World Snooker Championship title, was lagging behind Joe Perry after the first two sessions of the last-16 clash before hitting back to tie the game at 11-11.
And two stunning centuries, under the watchful eye of Peters, sealed his place in the quarter-finals in Sheffield with O’Sullivan showing a rare burst of emotion by punching the air.
O’Sullivan credits Peters with helping him clinch his last two World Championship crowns – and his increased presence at the Crucible could spell trouble for the rest of the draw.
Peters is also working with Liverpool as they close in on the Premier League title yet O’Sullivan insists it’s time to get selfish after coming so close to an early exit in Sheffield.
“I have got friends from Liverpool and it would be so great if they can do it, so I’m mindful that I don’t want to take all of his time up,” said O’Sullivan. “I said ‘that’s more important, I’m going to be OK’ but really I made a mistake. I could have done with him here on Thursday. But he said he’s not going to make that mistake again, he’s going to be around a bit more now.”
After levelling up the scores to one frame each in the first session, O’Sullivan was always behind world No 15 Perry before reeling him back in with two frames to spare.
And so intense were his last-ditch dramatics O’Sullivan says he has never played in a more exciting encounter at the Crucible, including his five previous world-title victories.
“I stayed determined right to the end, I was never going to give in and it was hard coming from behind all the time,” added O’Sullivan.
“He was playing really well so every time I got close he pulled away. I was missing a few shots and he got on top of me and I just had to draw on all of my experience. I’ve been here so many times and won a few times so I had to use that as my ace card if you like. That was probably a more exciting match than any of the finals I’ve had and probably my most exciting match ever at the Crucible.
“That’s the closest I’ve been to going out for quite a while, the last two tournaments I’ve had here I don’t think anyone’s been within six or seven frames of me. So you’re used to being in control of matches but I don’t think I was ever in control of this one. Once someone gets a lead on you, it’s really hard to peg it back. I had to be patient and make him earn it.”
O’Sullivan will now play either Marco Fu or 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy in the last eight starting on Tuesday.
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