Published Date: 06 May 2009
By Mark Berry
RONNIE O'Sullivan's Yorkshire-based coach has admitted that the world number one was "in bits" after his early exit from the Betfred.com World Snooker Championships but vows that 'The Rocket' will bounce back.
Steve Prest, who is based in Harrogate and runs a snooker academy at St Michael's Snooker Club, in Wakefield, began working with O'Sullivan shortly before the championships got underway at the Crucible Theatre, in Sheffield.
But the reigning champion came unstuck in the second round when he lost 13-11 to Northern Ireland's Mark Allen.
And Prest believes that O'Sullivan's early exit from the tournament was largely down to off-the-table events. He said: "Ronnie didn't really turn up and perform on the day.
"But there was nothing technically wrong with his game. It was purely down to pressure away from the table and Ronnie didn't get the balance right.
"Before the tournament I was totally convinced he would win it but he didn't play anywhere near his best."
Prest added: "Ronnie is in bits about not being world champion. He cares about winning games and his performances, he might say he doesn't but he does."
However, Prest is determined to turn the disappointment into future success. He said: "Working together in Sheffield was a massive learning curve for both of us and things will be done differently next season.
"I now know how to find a balance for Ronnie and if we get that right he will be unbeatable.
"If he had won I probably wouldn't have learned so much. I talked with Ronnie after the tournament and told him what we had both done right and wrong."
Prest was able to take solace in the performances of two more of his players however, and both Neil Robertson and Shaun Murphy enjoyed superb championships.
The two came face to face in an excellent semi-final, in which Rotherham's Murphy triumphed 17-14 to reach the final.
However, he was denied a repeat of his 2005 World Championship success by John Higgins who put in an impressive display to take the crown 18-9.
Prest said: "Shaun was happy to do so well. He got away with making mistakes for a couple of games but he was punished by Higgins.
"Neil was totally exemplary on and off the table and he was a credit to himself."