Shaun Murphy believes snooker has to take the rough with the smooth where Ronnie O’Sullivan is concerned.
Four-time winner O’Sullivan returns to the sport on Saturday as the Betfred World Championship gets under way at the Crucible, with an opening match against Scotland’s Marcus Campbell.
The 37-year-old will be defending his world title, but after almost a year away from snooker on a career hiatus, there can be no guarantees as to how he will perform.
Murphy, world champion in 2005, makes Neil Robertson and world number one Mark Selby his picks for the title, but he believes O’Sullivan will be the player to fear if he can get into an early groove in Sheffield.
When asked if O’Sullivan’s attitude towards snooker showed a lack of respect, Murphy said: “I think he has had his moments, good and bad, with snooker. But they have been well publicised.
“He has been his own worst enemy through the years, but somebody that naturally gifted is a genius, and they are always just slightly off the beaten track.
“When he is in full flow he is unbeatable, and when he’s not, he is still hard to beat.
“I would make Mark Selby and Neil Robertson favourites for the tournament, on form, rankings and all the rest of it.”