World Snooker Championship: Ken Doherty shares his tips for Crucible success

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan is once again a serious contender for World Cup glory (Image: Getty Images)

Neil Robertson is the favorite for this year’s World Snooker Championships but Ronnie O’Sullivan could have a ‘big year’ at the Crucible, says former world champion Ken Doherty.

Robertson is undoubtedly the best man heading to Sheffield having won the Masters, English Open, Players Championship and most recently the Tour Championship just days ago.

Down Under’s The Thunder is the bookmakers’ favourite, but his surprisingly poor record at the Crucible has many viewers, including Doherty, in doubt.

The Australian became world champion in 2010 but has only reached the semi-finals once since then. A record that stands out as bizarre considering he was one of the best players in the world during that time, winning a tournament every year since his world title.

With that in mind, the 1997 World Champion seems to be leaning towards the man Robertson beat in the semifinals of the Tour Championship, the man who can match Stephen Hendry’s record for Crucible crowns this year.

“I think Neil is the favorite with the way he plays, but he also came with great expectations last year,” Doherty told PA Media.

Neil Robertson had a stunning season (Image: Zhai Zheng)

“You have to question him because he admitted he didn’t like it. I think it could be a big year for Ronnie to win his seventh time and there is a case for both Chinese players (Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong) go very deep.’

Yan and Zhao could be labeled dark horses for the event, although they may have established themselves as top players enough to have transcended that label.

Having won the UK Championship and German Masters this season, Zhao is a threat despite never having won a game at the Crucible so he needs to improve his Sheffield record tremendously.

Former Masters champion Yan hasn’t had as good a season as his friend, but may have a style better suited to Crucible glory.

One man with a style that suits Sheffield best is defending champion Mark Selby, although he has struggled with his mental health this season and has been on a break from playing in recent months.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Seventeen

If Mark Selby could win a fifth world title this year, it would be one of the most notable achievements in the history of the game (Image: Getty Images)

It would be foolish to exclude the four-time champion from being crowned champion again, but Doherty rightly admits that there are doubts about Selby due to his health problems and the resulting underwhelming season.

“I hope Mark can defend the trophy strongly,” said the Dublin favourite. “When Mark is at his best he is very strong and has shown himself to be very strong over the long format.

“Mark has the game and temperament to win as many titles as O’Sullivan but this year has been a very difficult year for him and obviously his mental health concerns must take precedence.”

Selby, O’Sullivan and Zhao are all in action for the opening day of the World Championships on Saturday 16 April in Sheffield.

MORE : Hossein Vafaei: Ronnie O’Sullivan said he’d rather have another job, but I’ll never give up

MORE : Stephen Maguire wants heads to roll at ‘garbage’ World Snooker Championship qualifiers

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Nate Jones

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