Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the second round of the 2015 Masters with a 6-4 victory over Ricky Walden at Alexandra Palace in London. In the process O’Sullivan also equalled Stephen Hendry’s all-time centuries record of 775 in competition.
The 2014 Masters Champion compiled a century break, his 774th, in the sixth frame as he raced into a 5-1 lead but then had to wait until the tenth frame before he could equal the record as he hit 116 to win the match 6-4 and equal the record set by Stephen Hendry.
Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan is regarded by many as the greatest player to have ever played the game. He is definitely the most entertaining and exciting, of that there is no doubt.
The question, which has lingered on for many years now, is whether Ronnie still has the appetite to continue playing? He does have his good and bad days, which is more to do with his mental state of mind than his ability, and has threatened to quit the game on numerous occasions in the past, but he will leave a huge gap in a sport that badly needs characters like him if he does decide to retire.
For the good of the game we need The Rocket to continue playing.
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At present Ronnie seems at peace with himself and the game and nobody will bet against him defending his Masters title this year.
At 39-years of age O’Sullivan has been a pro for 23 years and hit his first century when just 10 years old. He holds the record for the fastest 147 break when he took just five minutes and 20 seconds to compile a maximum against Mick Price at the 1997 World Championships, one of 13 maximums he has made in professional competition. He also holds the record for the most centuries made at the World Championships (144), again eclipsing Hendry’s total (127).
Apart from capturing more titles Ronnie could now be targeting a century of centuries which will be a huge feat in itself. To do this he will have to play on until he is 45 and average 34 centuries a season. This is certainly within his gift, particularly taking into account his 53 centuries made during the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons.
One thing is for sure Ronnie will break the record very soon and the new record is unlikely to be broken, if ever, for a number of years. Although there are many talented youngsters in the modern game O’Sullivan is still regarded as the player to beat by many as on his day he can be at his devastating best and make the most talented of players look average.
Hopefully The Rocket will continue to grace our game for many more years to come, his supporters certainly want that to be the case.
Ronnie will now play Marco Fu in the second round of the Masters.
Leading Snooker century makers
Ronnie O’Sullivan 775
Stephen Hendry 775
John Higgins 562
Neil Robertson 387
Ding Junhui 376