UK Championship 2022: Ronnie O’Sullivan beats Matthew Stevens to reach second round

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Ronnie O’Sullivan won the first of his seven UK titles in 1993

World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan says he feels “unbreakable” because he treats snooker as “insignificant”.

The Englishman, 46, was speaking after winning through to the second round of the UK Championship in York.

The seven-time UK champion scored two centuries and two 90 breaks in a 6-2 victory over Wales’ Matthew Stevens.

Stuart Bingham also won 6-2, against English compatriot Liam Highfield, but fellow former world champion Mark Williams lost 6-3 to Jamie Clarke.

Clarke, 28, won the final three frames to claim his first victory over fellow Welshman Williams and reach the second round of the UK Championship for only the second time. He will play China’s three-time UK champion Ding Junhui in the second round.

Bingham, the 2015 world champion, managed a top break of only 61. But the 46-year-old, who has never made it past the UK semi-finals, used all his experience to set up a second-round match against Joe Perry.

China’s world number 15 Yan Bingtao, the 2021 Masters champion, earlier let slip a 5-3 lead over compatriot Zhou Yuelong to lose 6-5 against the world number 21. Zhou will play O’Sullivan in the second round.

I am under no pressure – O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan, who won the last of his seven UK titles in 2018, said he felt flat despite winning two tournaments this season, but believes he “has his snooker in a good place”.

“A lot of people on tour are under pressure for different reasons. I am under no pressure at all,” he told BBC Sport.

“For me, every match is just like a practice match. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to do, but I have made my life in such a way that this is so insignificant that this is just a bonus,” added O’Sullivan, who last month claimed he lacked the “passion and desire” to play snooker following defeat at the Northern Ireland Open.

“You don’t mind whatever snooker throws at you – I am unbreakable really.

“If I got beat 10-0 in the final, I would be like ‘lovely, shall we have a drink afterwards?’

“It’s where we should all be. We take sport too seriously – someone has got to win, someone has got to lose, just have fun.”

O’Sullivan equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles in May and remains world number one following victories at the Hong Kong Masters and Champions of Champions tournament in Bolton, where he beat Judd Trump 10-6 in the final.

Despite his apparent good form, the world’s leading player says he feels an “imposter” on the circuit and finds it laughable that, at his age, he is still able to compete at the top.

“When I started to win a few tournaments, I didn’t feel like I deserved it, I didn’t feel as if I had played well enough,” said O’Sullivan, who won the first of his seven UK titles in 1993.

“I feel like there has been a plot to allow me to do it. You feel like a fake. So I feel a bit not good about that.

“I was happier when I was not winning. I don’t know why.”

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