Ronnie O'Sullivan claims another world title

STEVE DOUGLAS
Last updated 08:40 07/05/2013

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Ronnie O'Sullivan won the world championship snooker title for a fifth time today, beating fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins 18-12 in his first tournament since returning from a long sabbatical from the sport.

O'Sullivan added to his victories at the Crucible Theatre in 2001, '04, '08 and last year, and became the first player to successfully defend the title since Stephen Hendry in 1996.

This was arguably O'Sullivan's biggest achievement, though, having spent the past year out of the game to deal with personal issues. He only announced in February that he'd be defending his title.

"My main motive wasn't to come here and win it, it's just I was so bored, sitting on the sidelines and nothing going on," said O'Sullivan, the most naturally talented player the game has seen. "I thought I could do with something to keep me busy for the next six weeks, preparing for the worlds.

"It's filled a nice gap of eight weeks - I've got to keep busy now otherwise I'll implode. It's been great to just get something back in my life."

Only Hendry (seven), Steve Davis and Ray Reardon (both with six) have won snooker's top prize more times than O'Sullivan, who has never lost a final.

O'Sullivan, who battles depression and has been helped by the work of renowned sports psychologist Dr. Steve Peters for his last two world titles, didn't say whether he would be returning to play next season.

"I want to balance it (snooker) with other stuff," he said. "I realize that in the year out, I didn't miss snooker. I just missed having something to do. If I can balance it with other things, that's the way forward.

"You feel trapped sometimes when it's just snooker, snooker, snooker. I'm not good at dealing with all the emotions that come with it."

The 13th-ranked Hawkins was playing in his first world final and led 3-2 at one point - the only time O'Sullivan trailed to an opponent in the whole tournament. O'Sullivan never lost an eight-frame session.

"That's the hardest anyone has ever pushed me - I was just hanging on in there," said O'Sullivan, who hit six century breaks in the final.

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- AP

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