WORLD champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was briefly reported in newspapers last week hailing Neil Robertson’s astonishing century strike rate this season.
But the Rocket’s comments in full on both the way the Australian is homing in on the almost mythical target of a hundred hundreds in a single campaign, and also the setting of records in general, can now be revealed by Inside Snooker.
Robertson has smashed last season’s record for century breaks out of sight, a mark of 61 set by Judd Trump.
In terms of the sheer scale of the margin for the new record, with Robertson on 83 and counting at the Championship League in early February, it looks set to be up there with golf’s Tiger Woods winning the 2000 US Open by 15 shots and the 1997 Masters by 12 strokes.
O’Sullivan is one for records as well as titles, standing on 724 career centuries and homing in on Stephen Hendry’s all-time mark of 775. He ties Hendry with 11 147 maximum breaks, and scored an unprecedented 556 unanswered points against Ricky Walden at January’s Masters.
But though the five-time world champion genuinely admires what the ruthless Robertson is doing, O’Sullivan also suspects that the world No1 would happily trade it all for one more success on the game’s biggest stage at the Crucible.
And January’s Masters champion is certain his 14 Major wins in the big three tournaments yield satisfaction over and above the thrill of moments such as making the fastest 147 of all time.
O’Sullivan said: “I think it is insane, what Neil is doing with the centuries. If you are confident and break-building and scoring well then 100 breaks can come along easily.
“I am not demeaning Neil’s achievement at all, but the standard is very high and a lot of players are used to winning frames in one visit.
“Players get to 70 and then maybe 70 per cent break down, but Neil is clinical, has made himself clinical and is not missing easy balls so 70s have become 100s all season.
“He is a powerful player and a powerful scorer, accurate potter. He is playing in more tournaments than when Stephen Hendry was at his best, but his strike rate is higher than Hendry’s anyway.
“He hasn’t just beaten the record, he has demolished it. It is probably the most phenomenal scoring in the history of the game. He could get 100 centuries, but I’m not too bothered that one escaped me.
“Neil, I am certain, would swap 100 100s if he gets there all day long for another world title, without fail.
“But it is still a great achievement, a testament to his professionalism and a great talking point for snooker.
“The centuries and records surrounding them are nice to make and break, it would be nice for me if I am around long enough to break Hendry’s all-time record, I think I have another 50 to go or so.
“That would be a nice milestone, but the way Neil is going even if I do he would probably break it four or five years after anyway.
“Records are there to be broken, but overall I am more proud of my titles, my world titles, and the ones at the Masters and the UK. They mean the most to me.
“The maximums, all 11 of them, and the centuries are great but I know they only win you one frame.”
O’Sullivan also admits that despite his admiration for Robertson’s destructive firepower on the table this season, he would rather have matched Ding Junhui’s ranking title hat-trick.
He added: “Different records will mean different things to people, and I would rather have had Ding’s season where he won three ranking titles on the bounce than Neil’s for the centuries.
“I think Ding’s is a greater record to have, and certainly greater than my record of the 556 unanswered points against Ricky Walden, which was only one match.”