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Page last updated at 16:19 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Ronnie O'Sullivan hails Barry Hearn as snooker supremo

The Masters 2010
Venue: Wembley Arena, London Dates: 10-17 January
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Red Button and BBC Sport website

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan is the reigning Masters champion

World number one Ronnie O'Sullivan has welcomed the influence of renowned promoter Barry Hearn on snooker.

Hearn became the new chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association last December.

He has secured a deal with an online poker site to sponsor the Masters, which starts on Sunday, and O'Sullivan said: "There'll be a lot less red tape.

"It will give an opportunity to be a bit more flexible, give room to work and will encourage new sponsors."

Hearn has promised to revitalise the sport and said of the Masters sponsorship: "This is a fantastic boost, it feels as if things are really turning."

Hearn, who also chairs the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC), is eager to bring back snooker's glory days of the mid 1980s when 18.5m viewers watched the final frame of the World Championship final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.


O'Sullivan hopes Hearn's involvement will bring "change for the better in the game" and said: "I was at the darts and watching the operational side of it and the production involved is good. I think that will come into snooker."

The 34-year-old, the defending Masters champion having won the title for the fourth time last year, has been given a purple cue which he may decide to use in his first match against Neil Robertson of Australia.

Having often struggled for motivation and been openly critical of snooker throughout his career, O'Sullivan said he would be willing to feature in promotional activities to help the sport in its new era, but warned: "I'm not one to negotiate with what I do as far as I play.

"If he (Hearn) is willing to accept me for who I am, then great. If he would ask me to make a few changes to benefit the game and it's not going to compromise how I play the game, then I'm open to that."

Masters first round:

Mark Williams (Wal) v Rory McLeod (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Jimmy White (Eng)

Masters second round:

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Neil Robertson (Aus)
Marco Fu (HK) v Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Allister Carter (Eng) v Williams/McLeod
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Stephen Hendry (Sco)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v King/White
Ryan Day (Wal) v Joe Perry (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) v Ding Junhui (Chi)
John Higgins (Sco) v Mark Allen (NI)

Print Sponsor

see also
Masters 2010 - Full results
16 Jan 10 |  Snooker
White buoyant for Masters return
07 Jan 10 |  Snooker
Snooker secures Masters sponsor
07 Jan 10 |  Snooker
White given wildcard into Masters
17 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Hearn confirmed as snooker chief
17 Dec 09 |  Snooker
Ding defeats Higgins in UK final
14 Dec 09 |  Snooker
O'Sullivan reclaims Masters crown
19 Jan 09 |  Snooker
Snooker on the BBC
08 Apr 11 |  Snooker

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