World Championship: Ronnie O'Sullivan - I'm a bit like James Blunt

By Shamoon HafezBBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre
World Snooker Championship 2017: Ronnie O'Sullivan compares himself to James Blunt
Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 15 April - 1 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, Connected TVs, online and app.

Ronnie O'Sullivan described himself as being "a bit like James Blunt" after progressing to the World Championship quarter-finals in Sheffield.

The five-time champion saw off fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy 13-7 to reach the last eight for the 18th time.

And the 41-year-old said afterwards: "I look at myself as a band or a singer nowadays.

"But I have not had the greatest of seasons and not written a great album this year."

O'Sullivan, who last won the world title in 2013, suggested the slog of tournament play week in week out appealed less than occasional high-profile 'guest' appearances.

"If you want to write great albums every year, then you need to do well on the snooker circuit. I don't see that I need to write a great album anymore, I just need to be a supporting act," he said.

"I don't mind the other players writing good albums, if I can be invited along for half an hour - 'here he is, he is still alive, can still perform' but then I'm happy to fade back into the security of life.

"Maybe I'm a bit like James Blunt. He seems a pretty cool dude."

O'Sullivan will next face Ding Junhui, who took the last two frames for a 13-12 win over fellow Chinese Liang Wenbo.

Ronnie on responsibility and relaxation

It was a good-humoured showing, and a change of tone for the former world number one, who has had an inconsistent season, marked by a fractious relationship with the sport's authorities.

He has been beaten in three finals - by Judd Trump, John Higgins and Mark Selby - and has also played in a number of exhibition matches, written a book and done TV punditry work for Eurosport.

But on the way to winning a record seventh Masters title in January, he lost control by swearing at a photographer and criticising a referee.

Since the tournament at Alexandra Palace in London, he had refused to engage with the media - answering questions with one-word answers, mimicking a robot, and on one occasion responding by singing an Oasis song - in protest at what he has this week alleged were "bullying and intimidation" by the snooker authorities.

He made that claim in an emotional news conference after his first-round win over Gary Wilson but displayed a lighter touch on Saturday after his comfortable win over another former champion in Murphy.

"I am not confident enough of writing brilliant albums every year so I choose to play the tournaments, have some fun and do my best," he said.

"My main aim now is to travel, play exhibitions, do my punditry work and work with people outside the industry - it is fun. I can be like a band who do a world tour - they pitch up, they play and it is all very nice for them because there is no pressure. I enjoy being in that position more.

"I have a responsibility to play at a certain level but you cannot do it all."

Latest scores from the 2017 World Snooker Championship

'I am not driven by records'

A triumph at the Crucible Theatre this year - in the 40th anniversary of the event's first staging here in 1977 - would bring O'Sullivan a sixth world title, taking him level with Steve Davis and one behind Stephen Hendry.

It would also be his 29th ranking title win, taking him second on the all-time list behind Hendry, who has won 36.

O'Sullivan added: "If I was to win it, it would be a great feeling but I have had that five times before. It is nice for a few days, a week or so but then you think, 'is it worth putting 365 days of blood, sweat and tears to hopefully win the world title for that feeling?'

"It is just a game, a few balls and I get the same feeling at the club - it is just a game for me. I have never been driven by records or titles or being the greatest player on the planet."

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