WORLD champion Ronnie O’Sullivan’s challenge for the Bet Victor Welsh Open title is picking up pace at the Newport Centre after a rapid 4-1 win over Ricky Walden.

Rocket Ronnie, who has been keeping fit by running around the Gwent countryside this week, raced to victory over Walden in just over an hour.

And, ominously for his rivals, the five-time Crucible king feels he is clicking into gear for the last few laps in Newport.

“Ricky’s had a good season and for me that’s a good win because Ricky can dominate the table and I’m pleased to get the win,” said O’Sullivan.

“I felt I was playing more instinctively rather than thinking too much about it,” he added.

“The last few months I haven’t really been cuing that great but today I just went out there and trusted it and got a bit more rhythm and momentum.”

After the match O’Sullivan praised the tournament, which is being held in Newport for the final time before moving to Cardiff next year.

“This event is perfect for me because there are some great places to go running around here,” said the 38-year-old.

“I just go out from my hotel and there’s a nice little loop of four to five miles I do and it fits in well with my life.

“I found that on tour I’d be eating everything, then I started smoking and getting fat and I thought this isn’t what I want for my life.

“There’s no point having a successful snooker career and then throwing it all away. I want happiness and for me it’s about having a healthy lifestyle.”

Next up for O’Sullivan is a clash of the titans against four-time world champ John Higgins after the Scot saw off Judd Trump 4-3.

“John is to me the second best player of all time and you can never write him off,” said O’Sullivan. “He will win tournaments; he’s too good a player not to.

“It’ll be tough but if I can play like I did today I’ll be in with a chance.”

Mark Selby, the 2008 champion in Newport, will meet Joe Perry in the quarter-finals.

Selby scored a 4-1 win over Ali Carter to book his place in the last eight, while Perry beat Stuart Bingham 4-3 in a dramatic encounter which went down to the last few balls.