RONNIE O’SULLIVAN feels that one day of Crucible crowds is like more than two months in the Big Brother House.
And the Rocket, concerned about protecting his privacy and avoiding Covid, may consider wearing a DISGUISE when he is out and about in Sheffield.
O’Sullivan was “harassed” by a “boozed-up” punter before beating Mark Joyce 10-4 to kick-start his title defence on the opening day of the Betfred World Snooker Championship.
Staff at a local restaurant had to intervene when the “nightmare” fan started to abuse Ronnie while he relaxed in between sessions.
When he won a sixth title last August, the Crucible’s locality was quiet as there were no crowds for 14 of the 17 days.
But with shops, pub beer gardens and some cafes having just reopened last week, a sense of excitement is in the air.
And though he has no issue with fans watching live, the Rocket has struggled to adapt to coming out of 2021’s strict national lockdown.
O’Sullivan said: “It was so draining. I was sitting in my hotel room on Saturday afternoon and thought, ‘I feel like I’ve been through 17 days already and it’s just day one.’
“All I had in my mind was, ‘Day 64 in the Big Brother house.’ I’m thinking I won’t be able to sustain this.
“It’s a case of thinking clearly on the table. Well maybe just stop thinking altogether.
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“I suppose if we all knew how to do that then we would be like Jeff Bezos!
“For now, I may have to stay indoors. I might have to get a disguise, a different face mask. I have to stay where I can get privacy.
“I don’t want to as I like Sheffield.
“I like being round the Crucible. Last year in August it was great as you could do that.”
No 1 seed O’Sullivan has struggled at the worlds in recent years due to the concentration required.
The 45-year-old said: “It’s hard coming here. You feel it’s such a slog.
"You think, ‘Am I really prepared to do 15 days of slogging for a semi-final?’ I need to find momentum.
When you’re younger, you’re fresh, hungry, shrug it off more. At my age it can wear you down.Ronnie O'Sullivan
“If I feel I can win then it’s worth putting the effort in. It helps having the crowd in.
“If there was no crowd, I might have sunk even lower in my chair and thought about getting out here quicker.
“If you can find a good place then this tournament is nice. If you’re burning too much energy mentally then come the quarter-finals you’re done and dusted.
“It’s hard not to think as it’s a thinking sport. It’s really technical and mental.
“That’s why it’s hard when you’re older. You have more battle scars and memories.
“When you’re younger, you’re fresh, hungry, shrug it off more. At my age it can wear you down.”
Big Brother ran between 2000-2018 and O’Sullivan says he was approached by producers to appear on the celebrity edition.
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The Essex potter said: “I watched a lot of Big Brother down the years but I didn’t have the bottle to do it.
“I was a fan of the show so they have always asked me.
“But living that way just didn’t appeal. Spending 24/7 with me? Well my fiancee Laila’s done nine years!”