Ronnie O’Sullivan reckons the UK’s way of life needs to be more attuned to that of Germany and Austria, writes Will Jennings.
The Rocket required just 108 minutes to beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at the Crucible on Monday, winning 10-1 to obliterate the previous record for the fastest World Championship match by 48 minutes.
And that blink and you’ll miss it display teed up a mouthwatering last 16 clash against world No.11 Ding Junhui, who toppled O’Sullivan on his way to UK Championship glory in York at the end of last year.
This contest will take place behind closed doors, however, and as the effects of lockdown continue to be felt around the UK, O’Sullivan says he’s relishing the new pace of life found in both Sheffield and beyond.
“It’s pretty nice, really, and I think this is how the UK should be – a little bit more quiet, a little bit slower pace of life,” the 44-year-old said.
“It feels like you’re in Germany or Austria or one of those type of countries - the vibe feels really good around the UK.
“I think we were going at such a breakneck pace anyway that in a way, it’s kind of calmed everything down, so I think it’s a much better lifestyle for everybody at the moment.
“It’s weird – it’s a bit like when I’m driving through London, to see it so empty is just unbelievable.
“And it’s unbelievable here and like a different world for me – I’m able to actually stay in a hotel which is a 30 second walk from the venue, which is great.
“Everything’s slowed down, and that kind of suits my way of life in many ways.”
O’Sullivan was in thrilling form as he took the Sheffield baize for the 28th time, producing spellbinding visits of 101, 85, 115 and 88 to take the first session by storm.
And he resumed on Monday with an 8-1 overnight lead before ruthlessly finishing the job, as further breaks of 65 and 93 got the match wrapped up in well under two hours.
Much of the narrative in the build-up to the tournament has centred on top players’ performance in front of no fans, with O’Sullivan usually enjoying raucous support whenever he descends on the hallowed Crucible turf.
Back on this morning. Tune in! https://t.co/NaO3IvCNm3— Ronnie O'Sullivan (@ronnieo147) August 3, 2020
He’s one of the most popular players of all-time but O’Sullivan, who will travel home to Essex before his second round match on Friday, says he’s loving the ‘holiday’ vibe of having no fans around Sheffield.
“I know it sounds mad but I actually prefer it – it means I haven’t got to deal with the pressure of the crowd and the expectation, and just getting in and out of the venue,” he added.
“With getting around, so much less is put on my shoulders so in a way, it feels like I’m on a bit of a holiday with a bit of a holiday buzz really.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to actually stay in a hotel close to the venue because normally it’s full of snooker fans and it’s hard for me to get any peace and quiet.
“It’s how I live my life, really - I’m just private, I don’t really socialise much anyway so to me it’s like everybody’s welcomed to my world now!”
Live snooker returns to Eurosport and the Eurosport app. Watch the World Championship from 31st July -16th August with analysis from Jimmy White.