RONNIE O’Sullivan rocketed to his fifth Betfair World Championship final as he brushed aside the challenge of Judd Trump at Sheffield’s Crucible yesterday.
Armed with a 14-10 lead heading into the fourth session of their semi-final, the defending champion punished Trump’s errors to move a frame away from victory, with a flicker of a recovery from the young pretender extinguished as O’Sullivan came through a 17-11 winner.
After almost a year out of snooker, the feat of reaching another Crucible showpiece match ranks among O’Sullivan’s finest achievements.
He has already claimed that this will be his last appearance at the World Championship, where he has won all four of the previous finals he has contested, and given the ease with which he has carved a path through to the title decider, that can only be good news for his rivals, including the inconsistent Trump.
Trump was 50-39 ahead in the opening frame yesterday but missed a red to a corner pocket and O’Sullivan rifled in a 41 break. O’Sullivan pinched the next after winning a tactical battle and finishing off with a crowd-pleasing 33. Trump crashed in a 77 break to give himself the slightest hope, but the reprieve was all too brief as O’Sullivan reeled off breaks of 31 and 33 in the next frame to clinch a showdown with either Ricky Walden or Barry Hawkins in the two-day final, beginning this afternoon.
O’Sullivan said: “I’m quite surprised really to be talking about another World Championship final.
“It was tough because I don’t think we played anywhere near our best.”
O’Sullivan added of the head-to-head with Trump: “There was a lot of tension out there during the sessions.
“We practise in the same environment, we used to be managed by the same manager, so that creates a kind of derby match feel.
“Everyone was really geared up for it because it was the newcomer against someone who’s been around a long time and wears his heart on his sleeve.
“I might say some things that frustrate people at times but my fans they always get behind me because they know I try my hardest every time I go out there.”
Trump said of his performance: “I feel disappointment really because I did have chances and in the first two sessions I really struggled.
“As soon as he got in front he was so difficult to peg back. My scoring wasn’t good enough at this level and it was the worst I’ve played in this tournament.
“He scored a lot heavier than I did. You’ve got to score while you’re in. I probably got in first more than he did which showed how good my safety was. But, over the tournament, he has missed less easy balls than the rest of us.”
Trump urged O’Sullivan to reconsider his plans to walk away from snooker.
“Hopefully next year he plays in it again so I can beat him,” Trump added. “I want to win the World Championship with him in it and I want to beat him on the way.”