Ronnie O’Sullivan is planning to skip more ranking events after joining the punditry studio as opposed to playing in this week’s Welsh Open. The Rocket cited “stage fright” and “anxiety” as reasons why he opted against competing in Llandudno, before opening up on plans to further drop out of tournaments.
Despite O’Sullivan being in imperious form, recently winning the Masters and World Grand Prix, he released a statement on the eve of the Welsh Open confirming that he would not be participating. It has not been uncommon for O’Sullivan to dictate his schedule in such a manner, pulling out of the Scottish Open, German Masters and British Open this season.
The 48-year-old has never been afraid to open up on his battles with mental health and has also dealt with injuries over the past year. Even though snooker chiefs want their star attraction at every event possible, the seven-time world champion explained that he is looking to play as little as he can at the moment, as long as it does not affect his ranking status.
“Yeah, it’s good [to be back], I think it is a great tournament, a great venue, and it is really nice to be on the coast,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “So it is always a great week and I think everyone loves just coming to this tournament.
“The key for me is if I can get away with playing the least amount, that is great for me. Just trying to stay in the rankings and free some time up, just enjoying myself. I don’t want to be on the treadmill every week, you know.”
Last month, O’Sullivan admitted that he would be picking and choosing his tournaments for the foreseeable future and would instead focus on playing in China. He previously threatened to retire if he was not able to compete in Asia, as he and other UK-based players are contracted to play in World Snooker Tour events and can be sanctioned if they miss them to play overseas.
But O’Sullivan is attempting to walk the line after confirming that he would not be playing in north Wales. “Morning guys, I wanted to let you know that I’ve decided I’m not able to play in Llandudno next week,” he wrote on social media.
“It’s hard to explain but for years I’ve suffered from stage fright at times, brought on by anxiety. It’s not something I can predict or control, but I try to manage it as best as I can.
“I’m sorry to everyone who’s bought tickets, but I just can’t get my cue out when I feel like this and I think this is what’s best for me right now. I still want to be around the tournament, so I’ll be doing some work with Eurosport and I hope to see you all there.”