Ronnie O’Sullivan admits he was ‘turned on’ by testing Ali Carter’s “bottle” in The Masters final on Sunday.
O’Sullivan fought back from 6-3 down to win seven of the next eight frames and secure an eighth Masters title at Alexandra Palace.
In doing so, ‘The Rocket’ became the oldest-ever winner of the sport’s most prestigious invitational, aged 48.
O’Sullivan trailed 5-3 following the first session of the final, and Carter looked to be heading for a first Triple Crown title when he took the opening frame of the evening.
However, O’Sullivan – roared on by a boisterous crowd in the capital – punished a series of unforced errors from his opponent to turn the tide and seal a 10-7 success, making it 18 wins in his last 19 meetings with Carter.
In his post-match interview on Eurosport, the world number one admitted he was driven by testing his rival’s ability to get over the line.
“I just had to keep Ali honest,” said O’Sullivan. “I thought, ‘Let’s see if he’s got the bottle to get over the line’. That was the only thing that turned me on tonight.
“I thought, ‘Let’s get him to the point… where I want to see if he twitches’. I love seeing it when their bottle goes. I love it.
“You can play terrible and still get them in that position and it’s like, ‘Let’s see if you can do it’. That was what was driving me on tonight, getting him to that point where I go, ‘Come on, let’s see if you’ve got it’.
“Not many people have, it’s a good place to find out when you’re out there.
“That’s my main asset really, I just try and get to that point where it’s about potting big balls.
“It’s holding yourself together. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few on the tour that can do it, but not many. I always like to get them in that situation and see if they produce.
“I’m not saying Ali did [bottle it], but he let me off the hook tonight and gave me some breathing space.”
O’Sullivan, who also claimed an eighth UK Championship title last month, is now on course for an elusive seasonal Triple Crown – with only Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Mark Williams having ever achieved that feat.
He is vying to eclipse the record of seven world titles he shares with Hendry when he returns to The Crucible in April.
However, O’Sullivan insists he is not motivated by breaking records, adding: “I’ve never been driven by titles or numbers or all that sort of stuff.
“I’ve always just wanted to play well and compete and enjoy the game, that’s the bottom line for me.
“If I happen to pick up a few tournaments, that’s a bonus. It’s never been my drive, I’ve always come just to master this game and I’m yet to be able to master it, but I’ll keep trying.”
After a busy period of competing in WST events and lucrative exhibitions in Asia, O’Sullivan confirmed his intention to take time off before the World Championship.
“I’m going to take two months off now,” he revealed. “I’ll probably just play next week [at the World Grand Prix] because it’s 32 players.
“But I’ll swerve all the other tournaments now. I want a break.
“I’m quite looking forward to getting on the exhibition circuit, I enjoy them because they’re a bit of fun.
“Too much intense snooker for me is not good. I now need to back off and consolidate, and get some fun in the game.”