Ronnie O’Sullivan On Nick Kyrgios: Antics Are No Good Without Titles

The Rocket insists controversy and crowd-pleasing are no substitute for major titles
10:00, 01 Nov 2022

Ronnie O’Sullivan insists controversy and crowd-pleasing are no substitute for major titles. The hugely popular Rocket enjoys the tag of ‘People’s Champion’ in snooker for his speed around the table and attacking style of play. 

But world No1 O’Sullivan, 46, is also the reigning and seven-time world champion, and holds the record for wins in the sports three major events with a haul of 21. 

O’Sullivan has had many mad moments in his career - and plenty of times been in hot water with the authorities. But in contrast with another talented sporting maverick in tennis’s Nick Kyrgios, who O’Sullivan enjoys watching, he has the major trophies to go with it.


O’Sullivan is in action this week at the Champion of Champions tournament at the University of Bolton Stadium  – an event reserved for the past year’s winners, and one he has won three times. 

He said: “I watched all of Nick Kyrgios’s matches at Wimbledon this year when he got a first slam final – he certainly livened that tournament up. 

“But I love winners, I always have. And until he starts to win big it is entertaining but you have still got the job done. 

“So for all the antics, it is exciting and he stands out from a lot of the other players for the way he does it. But at the end of the day unless you win, it loses it’s impact. 

“Winning has to be that final piece of the jigsaw. I would rather be boring and win than be exciting and not win. 

“For me, you have to win. If you don’t win, you’re just a number. To be taken seriously and be a legend in your sport, you need to win. 

“Not everyone can be a legend in their sport or the greatest, but that’s what we all aim to be. I certainly looked at Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry as my role models and tried to emulate them. 

“I’m sure others have felt the same about the great sportspeople like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Senna in their sports. 

“It is about what you achieve, not if you are a nice guy or an entertaining guy. When I watch F1 I’m not watching Max Verstappen because he is a nice guy, it’s because he is an amazing driver. 

“Same with Mike Tyson in boxing, same with Tiger Woods in golf. You don’t really care what they are like as people because you are not friends, or sharing a meal.”

The Rocket has won 78 titles across a glittering career
The Rocket has won 78 titles across a glittering career

Many of the crew that worked on O’Sullivan’s forthcoming Netflix-style documentary film swiftly moved on after this year’s World Championship success at the Crucible on to a similar portrait of the explosive Australian Kyrgios. 

But while there may be a slight similarity when assessing sheer raw ability, the desire to entertain and problems with authority, any serious comparison between the two mavericks falls completely apart when it comes to achievement.  

Kyrgios can match the Rocket for fines – but that really is about it. There have been just seven career titles won on tour, and no successes at any of the four grand slams - with Wimbledon this year his only final. 

And he has singularly failed to do what O’Sullivan managed over a decade ago – control the anxieties and mood swings that plagued him and affected his performance, and given his ability full rein. 

That sort of discipline continues to elude Kyrgios, who, despite being pure box office in his sport like the Rocket, struggles to keep it together for a whole five-set match, let alone seven of them to win a slam. 

But O’Sullivan, who has conquered his own demons of drink, drugs and depression in an equally eventful career, has with the assistance of sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters turned the raw materials into titles and trophies. 

There have been a grand total of 78 of them, the most recent coming at the Hong Kong Masters. 

O’Sullivan is by no means always a perfect role model and was only recently fined £4,000 for lewd and obscene gestures at last year’s UK  Championship and this year’s World Championship. 

But that is not what he is primarily known for – and that is what he has spelled out for Kyrgios. Now 27, the tennis player would do well to take note while he might still do something about it.

O'Sullivan is 7/2 to win the Champion of Champions with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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