Beaten O'Sullivan vows to play on until he's 50

Arguably the most naturally talented cueman now playing, Ronnie O'Sullivan suffered a surprise second-round defeat in the World Championship by compatriot Ali Carter

Ronnie O'Sullivan intends to keep playing snooker until the age of at least 50, having seemingly come to terms with being the sport's most high-profile player after an acrimonious exit from this year's World Championship.

Arguably the most naturally talented cueman now playing, the 42-year-old Englishman suffered a surprise second-round defeat by compatriot Ali Carter -- a player he has beaten in two world finals -- on Saturday.

Physical contact between players is all but unheard of in snooker yet the 19th frame of Carter's eventual 13-9 win saw O'Sullivan appear to barge into his opponent before calling him "Mr Angry".

For O'Sullivan, who last won the world title in 2013, it was just one more incident in a colourful 25-year career full of repeated threats to retire from the game.

But following the fall-out from his defeat by Carter at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre, O'Sullivan was in no mood to quit.

"I'll keep pitching up, I'll keep playing, and I'll probably be here until I'm 50 so get used to me," he said, adding his clash with Carter was unimportant in the context of world events such as the conflict in Syria.

O'Sullivan, however, remains snooker's biggest box-office draw and, reflecting on his clash with Carter, he told reporters: "The story's going to keep going because until I die, you're going to have to keep writing stuff about that.

"You can't say we've had 25 years of Ronnie, can we just push him aside?

"I'm here to stay. I'd rather be like a John Higgins and go under the radar, but it just isn't possible. I embrace it as much as I can, I try to carry it as well as I can, and that's all you can do."

O'Sullivan insisted he had not sought the position of being a standard-bearer for snooker, with Carter having lamented before their match that the sport had become 'the Ronnie O'Sullivan show'.

For his part, O'Sullivan, nicknamed 'The Rocket' for his speed at the table when in in top form, added: "Every sport has their Tiger Woods, every sport has their Roger Federer. I happen to be the figure in snooker.

"I'm not saying I win as much as them or have all the records but I didn't ask for that situation.

"I try to carry that as best as I can, but if other people have a problem with that then they have to deal with that themselves."

Arguably the most naturally talented cueman now playing, Ronnie O'Sullivan suffered a surprise second-round defeat in the World Championship by compatriot Ali Carter