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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 09:16 GMT
How to beat Ronnie O'Sullivan
By Willie Thorne
BBC snooker commentator

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie is not used to being under pressure

It is difficult with Ronnie. When he's good, he's the best, and when he's not so good, he's very beatable.

It all depends on what game he takes with him. If you can bully Ronnie at the table you can beat him.

When I say bully I mean dominate the table - win successive frames on one visit.

He then tends to sit back in his seat more than the others because he's not used to it - he's used to doing that to all the others.

I think that the only people who can beat Ronnie are those who take him on at his own game. If it goes alternate frames you haven't got a chance.

If you manage to make 80 or above three frames on the trot, you'll see him getting worried, and he simply doesn't look the same player.

You've got to look the part too. When Ronnie is in control he saunters around the table as if he owns it and without a care in the world.

The biggest problem - as it was with Steve Davis in the 1980s and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s - is that people are beaten before they play him.

But look what happens when he meets a player with some attitude, like Scotland's Stephen Maguire. He stood up to Ronnie on more than one occasion this season.

Ronnie O'Sullivan
He's only vulnerable when he is on his back foot

However, those glitches have been few and far between.

Ronnie never twitches to the extent that he can't pot a ball, but if you put him under pressure you can see him getting uncomfortable.

He's only vulnerable when he is on his back foot. In many respects he's like Michael Schumacher in Formula One - he's always used to leading the pack.

The mental aspect in snooker is crucial.

I would suggest that of the top 20 players there are probably 15 capable of winning a tournament.

Out of that 15, five will probably never win a tournament because they are not mentally tough enough.

But essentially the key is break building. There is not a negative player capable of beating Ronnie.

Fluency and mental strength is also important - and there are probably only 10 players out there who can boast both qualities.

Highlights: Watch Ronnie O'Sullivan win the Masters



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