Snooker - O'Sullivan targets glory into his 40s

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes he can maintain his exceptional form to win more major titles in his 40s.

O'Sullivan - a sprightly 38 - eased past Mark Selby to win a fifth Masters title at Alexandra Palace with a crushing 10-4 victory.

O'Sullivan won the fifth of his world titles last May at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, but is not abandoning hope of adding to that haul in forthcoming years.

He is arguably the greatest player to pick up a cue, but could continue to cement his legacy by adding to his already extensive list of achievements in the sport.

“I’ve had so many epic matches with Mark over the years that I was pleased to get over the line,” said O’Sullivan.

“To get five world titles, five Masters and four UK titles... I never dreamed I would have got there when I was turning professional."

O'Sullivan returned to snooker after a season-long sabbatical by retaining his world title with an 18-12 win over Barry Hawkins in the final.

O'Sullivan has since reduced his workload while he has been helped by sports psychiatrist, Steve Peters, to improve his mental attitude towards the sport.

“Getting to eight world titles (to overtake Stephen Hendry’s seven) is a monumental task, but winning a world title at 40 is one of my goals," he added.

"I said when I started working with Steve Peters, that was one of my goals.

“I was the oldest world champion for 40 years when I won it last year. A 40-year-old winning the world title in snooker would be great.

“I remember Tom Watson almost winning the Open golf championship (at the age of 59). That has to be my goal.

“If I can keep playing and competing, it is great. I’m giving Mark eight years of a head start today.

"Most of the players are 26-30 so I’m still pleased to be competing because I’m one of the older brigade.

“I was enjoying my time out, but I didn’t miss it a lot. I just missed having something to do. In hindsight, I’ve saved myself without meaning to. I’ve stayed a bit fresher because I wasn't playing last season."

O'Sullivan's 6-0 win over Ricky Walden in the Masters quarter-finals was one of the greatest sessions of snooker in the professional era.

He is of a mind he is playing at the peak of his powers because he has discovered some consistency.

“I used to play like that all the time," he commented. "The last two years is how I wanted to played for the last 18 years. Finding that consistency and fluency is what I always wanted.

"My potting accuracy is a lot better and that allows me to be a lot more aggressive."

Mark Selby feels no other player in snooker compares to O'Sullivan and his ability to create chances out of nothing.

"I thought Ronnie was fantastic in the opening three frames," said Selby. "I don't think anybody else would have won those frames in one visit. He was just so clinical.

"All credit to Ronnie. He played so well, and deserved to win. If he gets in front of you, he can steamroll you.

"That is really what happened to me today. It is no disgrace losing to Ronnie."