Five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted a recurring foot injury was affecting his credentials at the table despite cruising into the Betway UK Championship last 16.
The 43-year-old hadn’t dropped a frame en route to a third-round clash with Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham, and continued his comfortable progression at the first Triple Crown event of the season with a 6-2 win over his world No.32 opponent.
But while O’Sullivan safely continued his journey toward the defence of his crown – in what would be a record eighth win at the York Barbican – he explained an old running injury was threatening his ongoing performances.
“My foot’s in a lot of pain,” he said. “I’ve had problems with it for ages and I’ve been trying to rest it but running's something I really love and I’m not prepared to stop forever.
“I can feel it in the arena and it affects my back, but I’ll just have to manage it, not run on the days I’m not playing and hopefully it’ll be OK.
“It was an enjoyable game against Noppon. The conditions were hard, and it was quite difficult to score and get in amongst the balls.
“The table played a lot easier in the first two rounds which made it harder but I quite enjoyed the challenge out there and I’m pleased to get through.”
With Judd Trump having been knocked out by veteran Nigel Bond on Monday, O’Sullivan has emerged as the outright favourite to lift the trophy, but he insisted anyone left in the tournament is capable of winning on their day.
And with a mouth-watering match-up against two-time UK Championship winner Ding Junhui next up, the Londoner is confident he and his counterpart can produce a snooker spectacle for fans around the world.
He said: “There should be a lot of people watching that match – here and in China. I have a good following in China and I love my time out there so it should be good fun.
“Ding seems to be playing well. I haven’t been taking too much notice and I just take care of my own business, but he’s been beating some good players so I’m sure it’ll be a tough test.
“The tournament changes as it goes on and the main arena reduces to two tables. It’s going to be a good occasion, for sure.”