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Ronnie O’Sullivan makes history with eighth UK title but admits lack of ‘buzz’

Ronnie O’Sullivan celebrates with the trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)
Ronnie O’Sullivan celebrates with the trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ronnie O’Sullivan soaked up the adulation after becoming the oldest winner of the UK Snooker Championship in York but admitted: “I get more of a buzz from going for a run in the morning and having breakfast with my mate.”

O’Sullivan, who celebrates his 48th birthday on Tuesday, reeled off the last three frames to beat Ding Junhui and win the title for a record-extending eighth time, 30 years after he won it for the first time at the age of 17.

Predictably raucous scenes greeted O’Sullivan’s match-winning, exhibition-style finish of 129 at the Barbican, but the world number one cut a distinctly underwhelmed figure when grilled about his latest history-making achievement.

MrQ UK Championship 2023 – Day Nine – York Barbican
Ronnie O’Sullivan won his eighth UK title – 30 years after his first (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I’m not sitting here with a massive grin and super-excited,” said O’Sullivan. “I just go through the motions a lot of the time.

“It’s great to win and I give my best when I’m out there and I want to win, but it’s not the same excitement as years ago when I was winning my first world and UK and Masters titles, and you’re buzzing.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a nice feeling and a job well done, but I get more of a buzz from going for a run in the morning or having breakfast with my mate.

“I don’t actually feel like ever playing. Once you get down there you think you’re glad you’ve done it, but even in this match today I was thinking I didn’t feel like it, I’d rather sit on my bed and watch a bit of Netflix. I feel like that a lot of the time.”

Hauled back from 4-1 and 7-5 leads by Ding, who like O’Sullivan won his first UK title as a teenager in 2005, the world number one dug deep when it mattered and consecutive breaks of 100 and 74 set him up for his final flourish.

It was an admirable effort from the Chinese player, who had clambered off his sick bed to sink defending champion Mark Allen on the opening day having seriously considered withdrawing from the tournament.

But ultimately O’Sullivan, who had seldom been required to find his best form during his journey through the tournament, had just enough to leave Ding contemplating a second consecutive final defeat.

MrQ UK Championship 2023 – Day Nine – York Barbican
Ronnie O’Sullivan summoned a rousing finish despite some early frustration (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ding had clawed back to level at 4-4 at the end of an absorbing opening session, after a series of costly errors gifted O’Sullivan the early advantage.

Three times the 36-year-old blew early frame-winning opportunities to fall 3-0 then 4-1 behind before belatedly stirring to reel off three frames in a row including breaks of 114 and 70.

O’Sullivan wasted no time in re-establishing his lead in the first frame of the evening with a break of 84, but there was a hint of impatience in the next when he opted not to play on despite trailing by 51 and only requiring one snooker.

MrQ UK Championship 2023 – Day Nine – York Barbican
O’Sullivan kept his focus when it mattered to beat Ding Junhui (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ding appeared intent on pressing home his advantage but was punished for taking on some risky long shots in the next two frames, O’Sullivan edging ahead again with breaks of 40 and 87, then emerging from a scrappy spell in the next to reach the interval 7-5 in front.

A hard-earned 58 from Ding brought him back within one frame before a magnificent 104, his second century of the final, pulled him level again.

Anything Ding could do, O’Sullivan could do too, and the momentum swung back in the direction of the world champion in the next frame when he responded with a century of his own, a 100, his first of the final.

MrQ UK Championship 2023 – Day Nine – York Barbican
Ding came up short in his clash with O’Sullivan in York (Mike Egerton/PA)

A brilliant pink from O’Sullivan set him up to move one frame from victory with a break of 74, and he completed his win in his own irresistible fashion with his second three-figure finish.

Ding, who was also beaten in last year’s final by Allen, reflected: “The first half was disappointing because I had a chance to win more frames but 4-4 wasn’t too bad because I was 4-1 down. I came back to 7-7 but he played so well.

“All I could do was play good safety and make breaks. He just pushed me to make mistakes and it’s all I can do – I can’t do anything else out there.”