Snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan more pleased with 10k run record than second round progress

PUBLISHED: 15:03 17 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:03 17 November 2020

Ronnie O'Sullivan lines up a shot (pic Nigel French/PA)

Ronnie O'Sullivan lines up a shot (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Ronnie O’Sullivan raced into the Northern Ireland Open second round but insists breaking his 10km running record is his number one priority.

The Rocket had lift off against world No.82 Jamie O’Neill as visits of 127, 60 and 57 propelled him into the last 64 and sealed his 17th consecutive first round win at a Home Nations event.

Six-time world champion O’Sullivan has swapped potting for pavement pounding in recent times, however, broadening his horizons as he lost two stone during lockdown on a gruelling fitness regime.

Snooker is subservient to his newfound passion and O’Sullivan, chasing a 38th ranking event title, admits stopping the 10km clock in record time is at the top of his agenda.

The world No.2, who beat O’Neill 4-1, said: “Winning against a player outside the top 64 is harder than beating top players these days because in best of seven, they go out there swinging and invariably get the rub of the green.

“You have to fight for everything out there because otherwise you’re on a hiding to nothing.

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“My aim over the next month is just to focus on my running and do some good running. It’s a bit hard just focusing on snooker every tournament so you’ve got to try and find something that you love doing. For me, it’s the running so I’m keen to get my times down.

“I don’t want to set myself up for a huge fall but I’d like to get back to somewhere where I was ten years ago, where I was running 34 minutes for 10km.

“I ran eight miles this morning in 57 minutes so I’m getting fitter. I’m going to try and do an easy five tomorrow and then go for a ten miler on Wednesday.”

Lowly-ranked O’Neill did make a third-frame break of 66 but three fluent frames from O’Sullivan, 44, blew him away in Milton Keynes.

And the result continued the Rocket’s remarkable record of never losing a first round match at a Home Nations event, despite the best-of-seven format frequently throwing up surprises.

Top 16 players Shaun Murphy and Jack Lisowski slumped to first rounds defeats on Monday and O’Sullivan was relieved to avoid a ‘cake in the face’.

“Winning the match, it’s not like I’ve won anything really and you just have to avoid getting a big cake sploshed in your face,” he added.

Watch the Northern Ireland Open live on Eurosport, Eurosport app, and stream on discovery+

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