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Snooker | British Open 2018

"Messi plays a different game from the rest" - Ronnie O'Sullivan

Snooker's world number three and defending champion spoke exclusively to AS ahead of the English Open, and couldn't praise Barça's Argentine star enough.

"Messi plays a different game from the rest" - Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan gave up some of his preparation time ahead of the English Open snooker tournament to chat to AS. Not only did the reigning champion give us his thoughts on his own game, the enigmatic Englishman also reiterated his belief of his sport needing to entertain, shared his future goals, and waxed lyrical about the talent of Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Snooker for O'Sullivan

The former world number one was quietly confident about his form coming into this tournament despite having not played much recently.

"I played OK in Shanghai, so if I can take some of that form into the English Open then that would be fantastic," O'Sullivan said before admitting that he may repeat the situation where he allowed a fan to come out of the crowd to try their luck at potting his black ball.

"Why not?" he replied to the potential of it happening again. "You've got to have a bit of fun, you know. It's not all serious business...at the end of the day it's an entertainment sport."

"If someone wants to come and join the party, then you gotta let them party."

Let me entertain you | Ronnie O'Sullivan looking up.
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Let me entertain you | Ronnie O'Sullivan looking up.EUSOSPORTDIARIO AS

Remaining at the sporting top table

A strong character is as important as technique when it comes to getting to the very top of any sport, according to the man in a great place to judge. Using Serena Williams and Tiger Woods as examples of those that have taken their own disciplines to a new level, Ronnie explained how a period of time to switch off from the intensity was also required to stay there. He also admitted to enjoying cooking as a distraction from the green baize.

Much has been made of O'Sullivan's ability to switch the cue from left and right hands depending on the situation - or just to add an extra challenge to the occasion - but was clear about the difference between the two options.

"The right hand is the most important one for me. I've got all my touch and all my feel there, and it's the one that does all the damage," he revealed, stating that the change to the left is often just a way to avoid getting the rest out.

The magic right hand | Ronnie on cue.
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The magic right hand | Ronnie on cue.EUSOSPORTDIARIO AS

Running and meditating with the pros

With a full on life with snooker over many years, admitting that the number of tournaments he can play now has dropped by a third, it's maybe not a surprise that O'Sullivan looks to health and mindfulness to complete his journey.

"Before I die, the two things I want to do...run with the Kenyans, and I want to go and meditate with the Buddists. It's just trying to find the right time to go and do it."

Messi plays a different game from the rest

O'Sullivan admits to being a sports fan in general and enjoys watching the very best that is out there, in particular, FC Barcelona's Argentinian genius.

"How can you not love watching Lionel Messi play football; he's like a dream," started the eulogy.

"He just masters the ball so well and it's great to be living in a time where we are able to witness someone like him playing week in, week out.

"I'm a huge sports fan but obviously I follow the ones that play the game in a beautiful style. He plays a different game. They all play football...I don't know what game Messi plays but it's a different game."

The beautiful Beautiful Game | Messi does it for O'Sullivan.
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The beautiful Beautiful Game | Messi does it for O'Sullivan.LLUIS GENEAFP

The English Open is already underway and the 42-year-old won his opening match against Kurt Maflin 4-1 on Monday. Full coverage is being shown on Eurosport.