Ronnie O’Sullivan eased to a record-equalling sixth Masters title as he outclassed Barry Hawkins in last night’s final at London’s Alexandra Palace.
The Rocket had not played in a major tournament since last year’s World Championship but he swept Hawkins aside to seal a comfortable 10-1 victory and move level with Stephen Hendry on six Masters titles by beating a man who has got the better of him only once in their 11 meetings.
Hawkins took the lead after winning a scrappy opening frame in which both players passed up the opportunity to build a lead.
O’Sullivan then levelled with a quick-fire 70 after a poor safety from Hawkins.
The best of the 40-year-old came through in the third when a break of 136 saw him take the lead for the first time.
The fourth frame was tighter but Hawkins missed a difficult yellow and O’Sullivan went on to win the frame easily.
Hawkins just could not take his chances and, after the mid-session interval, he passed up the opportunity to reduce the arrears as O’Sullivan let him in with a sloppy safety shot.
It was the five-time Masters winner who went on to open up a three-frame lead after some marvellous cueing – before a simple red was missed by Hawkins in the sixth. In what was becoming a regular occurrence in this final, Hawkins again let O’Sullivan take a frame he himself had the chance to win.
A missed red down the table presented a chance to O’Sullivan and he did not let it pass. A break of 77 put O’Sullivan further ahead and, although Hawkins showed his class with a superb red potted off the green, he ended the session 7-1 down and in need of a miraculous comeback in the evening session.
But a stunning fight-back was not to be, as yet another chance passed him by and O’Sullivan took the closest frame of the final after fluking the pink.
A missed red from O’Sullivan in the tenth did not prevent him from returning to the table and building a 66 break on the back of a tremendous long pot and he completed a match-winning break of 82 to secure his sixth crown.