'Rocket' keen to defend Shanghai title

Ronnie "The Rocket" O'Sullivan is looking forward to defending his title at this year's Shanghai Masters.
Dong Jun / SHINE

Ronnie O’Sullivan will become the “star tutor” to the top-two top finishers at the China Amateur Masters. 

Ronnie “The Rocket” O’Sullivan is looking forward to defending his title at this year’s Shanghai Masters.

This year’s tournament — from September 10 to 16 — will be an invitational event rather than a ranking tournament. The venue has been shifted from Shanghai Indoor Stadium to Regal International East Asia Hotel with the main table to be placed in an indoor tennis court beside the hotel.

According to organizers, the tournament will feature the world’s top 16 players and four top-ranked Chinese players, as well as four Chinese amateur players — two to be recommended by the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association, and two best finishers at the China Amateur Masters which started last week.

The total prize money for the tournament is 725,000 pounds (US$942,645), with the champion pocketing 200,000 pounds alone.

“This will be a privilege tournament, which will also be my first tournament of the year,” O’Sullivan said, expressing his views about the new version of Shanghai Masters. “I would love to become the champion again.”

The Englishman beat compatriot Judd Trump 10-3 in last year’s final to win his second title in Shanghai.

“I haven’t set any particular targets for myself this season,” the current world No. 2 (second to fellow Englishman Mark Selby) told Shanghai Daily. “For the past few weeks I have been relaxing myself, going to the gym, cooking — I am a bit picky, or choosy about competitions, but I enjoy playing which enables me to travel around.”

As an interactive session for this year’s tournament, O’Sullivan and Welshman Mark Williams will become “star tutors” to the champion and runner-up of the China Amateur Masters. They will give instructions to the Chinese players and help them prepare for the Shanghai Masters. The final of the Amateur Masters will be held on September 8.

“I’d love to communicate with the Chinese players and maybe inspire them,” O’Sullivan said, talking about his new mission this year. “When I was young, I was also inspired by two masters — Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. Hendry is my hero, he changed the way the sport is played. Hendry for snooker is like Tiger Woods for golf.”

Tickets for the 2018 Shanghai Masters are available at www.jusstickets.com.

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