Ronnie O’Sullivan believes Stephen Maguire’s ‘temperament’ and ‘anger’ has stopped him from winning more titles, writes Will Jennings.
Five-time world champion O’Sullivan knows all about what it takes to triumph at the highest level, adding 31 ranking event titles to those five Crucible crowns and beating Maguire on 19 of the 23 occasions they’ve met.
World No.9 Maguire is a six-time ranking event winner but has failed to make a World Championship final throughout his career, reaching the last four in 2007 and 2012 but falling short against both John Higgins and Ali Carter.
The Scot recently won the Tour Championship behind closed doors, however, and the Rocket reckons Maguire would have got more tastes of glory had his attitude not let him down.
“I think he’s a brilliant player – I think Stephen Maguire is an absolutely unbelievable player,” O’Sullivan, 44, said.
“[Stephen] Maguire is good enough to win the World Championships, but maybe his temperament has let him down in the past.
“As a competitor and as a player, he can play under pressure that boy. He’s really up for it.
“He still gets frustrated and you can see him sitting there and inside you’re thinking ‘if I could have a camera looking inside, there’d be a lot of whatever going on there!’
“You can see the anger boiling up in him, but I think he’s quickly realised that he needs to forget that and move onto the next shot and try to not let it affect his performance and next visit to the table.”
Maguire soared to UK Championship glory as a precocious 23-year-old back in 2004, one of snooker’s three Triple Crown events along with the World Championship and Masters.
And he also won the European Masters that year as he marked himself out as a promising young talent, before also winning the 2007 Northern Ireland Trophy and 2013 Welsh Open.
But he has struggled to maintain that brilliance throughout his career at the table, falling short at the Crucible in recent years having been knocked out in the first round on five of the last seven occasions.
Maguire reigned supreme behind closed doors in Milton Keynes last month, however, and will face talented qualifier Martin Gould in the first round in Sheffield.
Maguire and O’Sullivan have played out some pulsating battles over the years, with the Rocket reigning supreme in their most recent Crucible contest and the Scot coming out on top in a thrilling duel at the 2008 Masters.
Twelve years on from that contest, O’Sullivan is acutely aware the 39-year-old will never stop accumulating knowledge – and believes both he and Maguire possess similarities as players.
“If there is one thing, he’s a little bit like me – if he misses a shot it tends to affect the next shot, and the next shot and the next frame,” he added.
“He’s probably lost a lot of matches and tournaments that way, similarly to me – I think he now looks like he’s realised he needs to work on that area and I think he’s doing that a lot better now.
“I think he’s changed his practice facility - I don’t know if that’s had something to do with it – but some players change something and it gets them going.
“Maybe that’s what’s worked for him – Joe Davis said in his book ‘you never stop learning through snooker’ – you think you can get to the end of it but you can’t, and there is no end.”
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