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Ronnie O’Sullivan “will need to improve” to equal Stephen Hendry’s world title record says Mark Allen

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Allen crashes out at The Crucible (Photo by Ian Hodgson/PA Images/Alamy Stock Photo)

Mark Allen believes Ronnie O’Sullivan “will need to improve” if he is to claim a record-equalling seventh World Championship title in 2022.

Allen suffered a 13-4 thrashing at the hands of a ruthless O’Sullivan in the Last 16 at The Crucible, with ‘The Rocket’ taking just 15 minutes to secure the one frame he required to seal victory on Saturday.

O’Sullivan fired in two century breaks, plus a further pair of 90+ breaks on his way to an emphatic victory as he set up a Quarter-Final clash with Stephen Maguire.

Allen had vowed to “get under O’Sullivan’s skin” prior to the contest, but failed to make an impact in the first session and was left with a mountain to climb.

The Northern Ireland Open champion admitted after the defeat: “Not a lot of fun to be honest, I’ve never had to experience that before and hopefully not again.

“It’s a really weird mindset, I’ve never given up in my life but mentally I had nothing left today which is probably understandable given how poor I was yesterday.

“It’s not ideal preparation really knowing that the inevitable is coming and you have to try and make a fight of it, but I didn’t have much left today at all.

“If I’m honest with myself, I think I got away with it in Round One, my form has been like that for a while now and I can’t put my finger on why.”

Six-time champion O’Sullivan is chasing down Stephen Hendry’s record tally of seven world titles and is through to his 20th Crucible Quarter-Final since making his debut in 1993.

His win over Allen marked a record 71st in the sport’s show-piece event, but Allen admits O’Sullivan must raise his game if he is to go on and lift the trophy.

He added: “As much as Ronnie played well, I felt like it was coming from my errors, I didn’t feel like he was outplaying me in any way.

“I was all at sea yesterday and against the very best in the world, you get found out.

“I think he’ll need to improve, come the later stages you’re going to be playing people who are super sharp.

“Dave [Gilbert] sort of fell apart a bit in Round One and I may as well not have turned up in Round Two, so he’s had it all his own way so far.

“It’ll be interesting to see what happens if someone puts him under a bit of pressure.

“But he’s the greatest to have ever played the game, in my opinion, so it would be silly of me to say “no he can’t go on and win it”.

“I think he’s only won one of the last seven here so he’ll be fighting his own demons and will want to finish well because of the documentary that he’s doing.

“I would say he feels it [pressure] more than he lets on but handles it better than most. 

“It would be nice to see him equal Hendry’s record because he’s widely renowned as the best that’s ever played but until he gets that record off his back then maybe people will always question that.

“I’m not overly interested in who wins, I will probably be cheering on Stephen Maguire because he’s one of my best mates but if he wasn’t to win it then yeah I’d love to see Ronnie equal that record.”

Allen has had to contend with personal problems away from the table during the course of the season, notably withdrawing from the Champion of Champions in November, but has revealed those issues are close to being resolved.

“It would be nice to come and just concentrate on snooker rather than worry about all the other stuff that’s going on but we’re getting close,” said the 36-year-old.

“The frustration for me is, from the turn of the year it’s been much better off the table and my snooker hasn’t reflected that. I’ve had no excuses since the end of January, things have been really good for me.

“Things that have happened off the table have went in my favour, I’ve just played very poorly, there’s no sugar-coating it.”