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  Monday, 7 May, 2001, 22:05 GMT 23:05 UK
No ordinary genius
O'Sullivan in action during the final
Look, both hands: O'Sullivan can play with either
BBC Sport Online's Peter Sanderson marvels at the extraordinary talents of Ronnie O'Sullivan after the Rocket won his first Embassy World Championship.

So the Rocket landed safely in snooker's hall of fame after all.

"O'Sullivan will buckle on snooker's biggest stage," the press had chorused before the championship began.

"He's the new Jimmy White - big on talent but small on bottle," they cried.

Foolishly, even the bookmakers refused to believe the Rocket would have enough fuel in the tank, making Higgins 11-8 favourite before the final cue off.

In fact, virtually every corner of the snooker, media and betting world had plotted his downfall.

O'Sullivan in the Crucible chair
Tears and tantrums but now world's best
How wrong they all were as the Englishman triumphed in style.

Admittedly, there were tears and tantrums on the way, but respect must go to O'Sullivan.

The quit threats evaporated the moment the Crucible torch had been lit and - rather than wallowing in life's ill-fortune - he instead focused on his relentless march towards the title.

Talents such as Quinten Hann, Dave Harold and Peter Ebdon fell helplessly by the Sheffield wayside.

None were given the chance to muster more than six frames against the ruthless O'Sullivan.

Then it was the turn of comeback king Joe Swail to feel the wrath of the Rocket.

Despite being lauded for his stubbornness, Swail was effortlessly swept aside 17-11 without even a whimper from the Rocket.

The victory left the Irishman echoing Ebdon's sentiments that O'Sullivan was indeed snooker's answer to Mozart.

Ebdon congratulates O'Sullivan
Peter Ebdon congratulates snooker's Mozart
But the Essex Exocet still had to find the right notes in the final against 1998 champion John Higgins.

The Scot had hardly stumbled there himself, first beating Ken Doherty in the last eight and then Matthew Stevens in an epic semi-final.

Two days and 18 frames later, O'Sullivan had won the toughest world championship in the game's illustrious history.

He has individually pioneered his own brand of "sexy snooker" in Sheffield.

And, after such a vintage performance against Higgins in the final, the question is - just how good is he?

True connoisseurs of the game will tell you he is the greatest ever.

"He's a genius," purred BBC Five Live's Phil Yates.

"You could pit him against Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry or Alex Higgins at their best and, if he was up for it, he would beat them all.

"He plays shots that no other player would dream of.

"People compare him with Jimmy White but the Whirlwind never won a world title nor did he knock in centuries with such extraordinary ease."

It is no coincidence O'Sullivan's sporting hero is Tiger Woods.

O'Sullivan chalks his cue
Out of the shadows: Talent rewarded
In terms of natural ability, both are streets ahead of their sporting rivals and if only O'Sullivan can sustain the form he has displayed at The Crucible, he can win snooker's equivalent of the grand slam.

This is no ordinary genius we are talking about.

He made a maximum at 15, and the quickest 147 on the game's most prestigious stage at 21. Most remarkable of all, he is capable of being in the world's top 16 playing with either hand.

O'Sullivan has had his dark moments but he has leapt from the Crucible shadows and joined the snooker greats.

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