Shaun Murphy drops Ronnie O’Sullivan retirement comment as Masters gets underway

Ronnie O'Sullivan clashes with Mark Allen during tense game

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Shaun Murphy believes Ronnie O’Sullivan is at his very best following his World Grand Prix win – and he is only improving with age. O’Sullivan won the Grand Prix title in December when he conquered Neil Robertson in the final.

It was the 46-year-old’s first title since winning the 2020 World Championship, extinguishing any idea that his silverware-winning days were behind him.

O’Sullivan goes into next week’s Masters as one of the clear favourites.

Murphy, currently ranked world number seven, believes players are peaking later in their careers.

The 39-year-old insisted long gone are the days of Stephen Hendry, where careers ran out of steam relatively early. Hendry won the last of his seven world titles aged 30.

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“As dangerous as ever. Seems to get better with age,” Murphy told when asked about O’Sullivan.

“There was a time… when I took the game up, players weren’t maturing until their late thirties, early forties. 

“Then when I was turning pro and my early pro career, Stephen Hendry was done and dusted by his early thirties, so we’ve seen it all really. I don’t think Ray Reardon turned pro until he was mid to late thirties!

“Players like O’Sullivan, [John] Higgins, [Mark] Williams, they just seem to be ever present, really. The game’s going to get a lot easier for the rest of us when those three stop playing.

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“We’ve said it many times, there’s very little better in snooker when you see O’Sullivan in full flight, or Higgins, or Williams, somebody like that. The way they manoeuvre the ball, the strategy, the way they go about it is majestic to watch.

“I’m hoping that all 16 of us [at the Masters] put on a great show at the Ally Pally and it will be a year to remember.”

Despite beating Robertson at the Grand Prix, O’Sullivan played down such suggestions as he believes he is past his peak.

‘The Rocket’ admitted he is pleased to still be competing at the top of the game.

“Neil was playing the best snooker and he’s the younger guy, he’s at his peak and I’m past my peak, so he was favourite, but strange things happen in sport,” the six-time world champion said.

“Some of the other great players didn’t win much after the age of 30 so it’s good to just be playing at the age of 46.

“I am always working on little things in my technique. Players like me and Alex Higgins are unpredictable, we are just looking for a feeling, and sometimes when you get that feeling… bang! Everything is off and running again.”

O’Sullivan will kick off his Masters quest against Jack Lisowski on Tuesday afternoon, while Murphy was eliminated from the tournament by Barry Hawkins on Monday night.

Murphy led 2-1 in the first round, but he lost the next five frames to advance to the quarter-finals.

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