O’Sullivan to return to defend world title

Reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has announced he will be returning to the game in April to defend his World Championship title.

O’Sullivan pulled out of the 2012-13 season last November because of “personal issues”.

The 37-year old has confirmed he has changed his mind and will try to win the sport’s most prestigious tournament, which begins on April 20, for a fifth time.

“I got a bit bored,” said O’Sullivan. “I needed a rest and I thought it was time to get back to what I have done for a lot of my life.”

World Snooker says it is awaiting O’Sullivan’s formal entry but that, as the reigning champion, he will be scheduled to play on the opening morning of the World Championship on Saturday, 20 April.

O’Sullivan added: “Three or four months ago I was sitting thinking that I would rather be losing 10-0 in Sheffield to be back playing, rather than going for lunch, dinner and chilling out.

“I had to get back to playing, winning or losing, and it shows how big a part of my life snooker is.”

O’Sullivan continued: “I certainly feel refreshed. I was never out of juice. I don’t find snooker hard mentally or physically.

O’Sullivan has provisionally dropped to 24th in the rankings but, as
defending champion, he will qualify for the World Championship and be the top

Barry Hearn, chairman of the World Snooker Association, described O’Sullivan’s decision as “great news” for the sport.

“Ronnie’s a one-off,” he told BBC Radio 5 live. “There are a lot of great players out there but Ronnie brings more to the table than most of them.

“Snooker is a buzzing sport globally. If we’ve achieved what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months without Ronnie, goodness knows what we can achieve with him. He’s the cream on top of the cake.”