Judd Trump believes he is immune to a Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘fear factor’ that still appears to cripple many of the Rocket’s rivals.
The Juddernaut will be one of O’Sullivan’s biggest world title challengers at the Crucible when the 40-year-old goes for a sixth crown later this year.
O’Sullivan was pushed to 6-5 by Mark Williams in the first round but overall won last month’s Masters at a relative canter after opponents failed to fire – and that has also happened in Sheffield.
World No5 Trump trails O’Sullivan just 8-7 in the overall head to head, and has pushed him very close even in some of those losses.
And the 26-year-old, who will play a series of six showdown matches this summer against O’Sullivan, insists even top players are scared just entering the arena.
He said: “Ronnie still has a fear factor with many players, you saw that in the Masters final where he beat Barry Hawkins 10-1.
“So many just don’t play well against him, and even when he isn’t playing that well players just play so badly in their matches.
“Everyone gets so scared playing him and that is something that no one else in the game possesses, it his biggest asset now.
“Luckily it doesn’t get me like that, I beat him early in my career and that helped, some guys on tour have either never beaten him or not for 10 years.”
The six-match Trump v O’Sullivan series, over the best of 11 frames and at venues in England, Ireland and Northern Ireland, is lined up to have a shot-clock of 30 seconds per shot – but Trump has challenged his opponent to prove he truly is still ‘The Rocket’.
The pair are among if not the quickest players on the circuit, but Trump claims both can go faster.
He added: “I think 30 seconds is loads of time, probably too long for us. We are both comfortable playing under 20 seconds, so maybe we can get that down.
“Everyone should be playing to that speed anyway, 23-25 seconds, you know the shot you are going to play. If you play quicker, you play better – look at Neil Robertson.
“I will go for any time on the shot-clock, let’s see what Ronnie agrees to and can cope with. Hopefully he’d go for 15 seconds, 10 seconds even.”