Ronnie O'Sullivan: Steve Davis says 'Rocket' stronger than ever
Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is getting better with age, says snooker legend Steve Davis.
The 38-year-old won his fifth title at the London event by beating three-time champion Mark Selby 10-4 at Alexandra Palace in Sunday's final.
"He is maturing as a player. He's mentally stronger now than he's ever been," Davis told BBC Sport.
O'Sullivan at 2014 Masters
- Played: 4 Won: 4 Lost: 0
- Frames won: 28 Lost: 7
- Record: Scored 556 points without reply in 6-0 win over Ricky Walden
- Total points for: 2,726 Against: 983
Seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry said new rules could extend O'Sullivan's career at the top.
O'Sullivan, in a record 10th Masters final, raced into a 7-1 lead before completing victory in a tournament where he dropped only seven frames in four matches.
After missing several events, the Essex player - who won his fifth world title in April after a year out of the game - was only ranked 24th in the world before the Masters.
But the man nicknamed 'The Rocket' was asked as world champion to the invitation-only showdown, which traditionally features the top 16 players.
The season's rankings are being changed with more emphasis on prize money, rather than ranking points, which means O'Sullivan can afford to skip some events.
"I think it's going to help him the way snooker has been restructured. He's not going to play in everything and it's going to make his career longer," said Hendry, whose record of seven world titles could be under threat if O'Sullivan continues at a high level.
Davis said O'Sullivan appeared to be relaxed at the north London venue, which is only a short journey from his Essex home.
Pundits on O'Sullivan
"Ronnie loves to humiliate his opponents, just run them into the ground. It is a perverse feeling, I used to love it as well. He wants to prove a point, that he is the best player in the world" - Stephen Hendry, seven-time world champion in the 1990s
"He is probably as good as he has ever been" - John Parrott, 1991 world champion
"A good yardstick is his attitude off the table," said six-time world champion Davis.
"Sometimes when he walks into the auditorium, he doesn't acknowledge the crowd, as if he doesn't really want to be there, but here he put his hand up to fans, a sign he is happy where he is in his life."
Davis said another indicator of O'Sullivan's increased focus is the lack of left-handed shots during his Masters campaign. The Englishman is predominantly right-handed.
"He has been very quick out of the starting blocks," added Davis.
O'Sullivan, who has suffered from depression in the past and has been helped by sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters, detailed in a recent biography how cross-country running has helped his outlook.
"There is still a gap between him and other players," said Davis.
The 1991 world champion John Parrott added: "There's no doubt his fitness regime has helped in all that. The boy's a genius and when he plays his best, he is a cut above everybody else."