Ronnie O’Sullivan could reach 1,000 century milestone at Coral Players’ Championship in Preston

Ronnie O’Sullivan is fast approaching the unique achievement of 1,000 career centuries which he could reach next week at the Coral Players’ Championship in Preston.

O’Sullivan, who is defending the title, having beaten Shaun Murphy 10-4 in last year’s final in Llandudno, has made 994 so far.

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Second on the all-time list is Stephen Hendry, who made 775 tons during his illustrious career, and the huge gap of 219 shows just how prolific the 43-year-old has been.

In his debut professional season back in 1992/93, O’Sullivan made 29 centuries – only Hendry made more that term – and The Rocket has been a regular scorer of three-figure totals ever since, establishing himself as the best break-builder of all time.

His biggest tally in a single season came in 2017/18 when he made 74.

He has never come close to a century of centuries in a single campaign, as he plays in fewer tournaments than many of the other leading stars, but Neil Robertson achieved that unique feat in 2013/14 by racking up 103 tons, 42 of which came in minor-ranking events and the Championship League.

O’Sullivan also leads the way when it comes to maximum breaks.

His 147 at the English Open earlier this season was the 15th of his career.

Hendry made 11 maximums before he retired in 2012, while John Higgins, nine, Ding Junhui (six) and Shaun Murphy (five) are the only other players to make more than four 147s.

The Rocket has also made the most centuries at the World Championships with 166, followed by Higgins with 138 and Hendry with 127.

‘Rocket Ronnie’ headlines a list of the 16 best players in the world, which also includes world No.1 Mark Selby, current world champion Mark Williams and four-time world champion John Higgins who will be in action at the Guild Hall next week.

The £380,000 ITV-televised tournament is the second of three events in the 2019 Coral Snooker Series and begins at 7 pm on Monday, March 4, and concludes with the final on Sunday, March 10.

O’Sullivan faces Barry Hawkins in the opening round with Selby against Higgins the pick of the last 16 games.

Number one seed Mark Allen has been drawn against Stephen Maguire.