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Ronnie O’Sullivan claims “nice guy” Neil Robertson lacks “killer instinct”

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A great admirer of Robertson, O’Sullivan feels the Australian should have won more titles (Credit: Li Ying/Xinhua/Alamy Live News)

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes a lack of “killer instinct” has prevented “nice guy” Neil Robertson from winning more titles in his career.

Triple crown winner Robertson is the most decorated overseas player in snooker history, with his total of 23 ranking titles putting him joint-sixth with Judd Trump on the all-time list.

One of the greatest breakbuilders in the game, the Australian has also compiled 854 centuries in his career – a tally only bettered by O’Sullivan, Trump and John Higgins.

Robertson is aiming to complete the Home Nations grand slam at the Northern Ireland Open in Belfast this week, although he has never previously progressed beyond the last 32 of the event.

The 2010 World champion’s Crucible record is also fairly modest by his standards, having only advanced to the one-table setup on one occasion (2014) since lifting the trophy 12 years ago.

O’Sullivan, who recovered from 4-1 down to defeat Robertson 6-4 in last week’s Hong Kong Masters semi-finals, is a huge admirer of the 40-year-old’s game, but feels that a lack of “nastiness” may have prevented him from adding even more silverware to his collection.

“He is very consistent and with that cue action, not a lot can go wrong with it,” the seven-time World champion told Eurosport. “I’m surprised he has not won more, really, with that type of cue action that he has got.

“I just think maybe he lacks that bit of killer instinct, that nastiness. He is such a nice guy, like Barry Hawkins.

“It is hard to be good at everything. With that type of cue action, he is just used to dominating the table. Other players are not used to dominating the table, so they make up for it by winning scrappy frames.

“What he lacks is when the game is perhaps not going smoothly, how do you think your way around the table? I think that is where I have been able to catch him.

“A few balls get missed and then I’m like ‘okay, we are in a dog fight – are you up for a dog fight?’ Maybe he is not that type of player, he just likes everything nice. Sometimes, you have got to be able to think on your feet out there and adapt.

“So, I think if there is one criticism – and it is not really a criticism – it is that he has not got, like [Mark] Selby, the style to out-fox you and trap you and do things like that. I just don’t think Robertson thinks like that; he does not want to think like that.”

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