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Impossible to envisage anything but another Rocket romp

| 25.03.2014

More than ever any debate about the outcome of an event that can boast his participation has to begin with Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The five-time World Champion claims he was playing the best snooker of his life before he even turned professional but there is no doubt that of all the times when you would want to play The Rocket it certainly isn’t now.

A fifth World Championship last year has been followed with a string of victories this campaign starting with the Paul Hunter Classic, then the Champions of Champions, a fifth Masters title and most recently a third Welsh Open.

In his last ten tournaments O’Sullivan has been the last man standing in seven of them, however, it is the manner of the victories that has attracted so much attention and praise.

The 38-year-old has not let the opposition even contemplate an upset in any of the events he has won, dropping only seven frames all week when winning at Alexandra Palace and setting new records wherever he goes.

His 12th career maximum to finish the match against Ding Junhui in Newport broke the record he previously held with Stephen Hendry and it was no surprise either such was the ease in which he was playing and dispatching his opponents.

An unfortunate, but unsurprising consequence of these phenomenal results, however, is that the layers are running scared and his price for this event and the World Championship has collapsed.

The Players Tour Championship Grand Finals is only in its fourth year but The Rocket has been installed as the 13/8 favourite despite the best 24 players from the European Order of Merit and the top eight from the Asian swing all in attendance.

Even with the very best on offer it seems they are playing a different game at present to O’Sullivan and the only factor in their favour is the short format of the tournament.

The opening rounds will be played over best-of-seven and so the rest of the field will be praying that the jolly gets caught cold early on before the structure is extended in to longer games.

When looking for alternatives, Ding Junhui at 6/1, is an obvious choice having continued his excellent form at the Welsh Open when only finding ‘you know who’ too good in Newport.

However, despite becoming the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1990 to win three consecutive ranking titles the reality was that O’Sullivan was not in the draw of any of them and the result when they do meet has been the one you would expect for some time.

The price is verging on prohibitive for such a quick-fire format, however, if O’Sullivan does get past the opening rounds as expected suddenly that quote will look like a giveaway.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster