Ronnie O’Sullivan powered past Ali Carter last night to clinch his place in the Betfair World Championship quarter-finals.
After winning all 12 of their previous matches at major tournaments, including last year’s Crucible final, O’Sullivan extended that record to 13 from 13, winning 13-8 and set up a clash with Stuart Bingham tomorrow.
Carter came from 6-3 behind yesterday to briefly level at seven frames each, at which point he had O’Sullivan rattled in his seat, with the 37-year-old four-time world champion still not at his sharpest following almost a year out of the sport.
But even a rusty O’Sullivan proved too potent a potter for Carter, who was floored by a flurry of punishing breaks.
Armed with a 9-7 overnight lead, he took the opening frame with the aid of an audacious long double on the final red.
Carter responded with an 86 break, but the hint of a fightback was only the spur for O’Sullivan to step up his game.
He was given a helping hand by Chelmsford man Carter who on each occasion left reds hanging to get O’Sullivan started, but the punishment was decisive as runs of 88 and 106 opened a four-frame gap. Carter returned from the interval needing to win five frames in a row, and he drove in a splendid long red to start with but made just 27, and soon found himself in a snooker.
He hit the target red but left it for O’Sullivan who ploughed in 89 to settle the issue.
O’Sullivan said: “It was a tough match and I’m just pleased to have got through there. Anyone who says they’re not uncomfortable out there is a liar. I’m pleased I came through it but it’s not going to get any easier now.”
Carter suggested O’Sullivan was having all the luck, and added: “I had him bang under it at 7-7 and shouldn’t have taken on a long red. I should have perhaps played safe but I was there to try to win, not avoid defeat.”
Carter is convinced O’Sullivan can carry off the title.
“If his head doesn’t fall off, yes he will,” Carter said. “But we all know if his head falls off anyone can beat him. If he plays like he did today, nobody can beat him.
“It makes no difference at all that he’s been out for a year. He’s been practising like the rest of us. I think he’s done the right thing having a year off; in fact I might do that next year. Why not?”
Earlier, China’s Ding Junhui beat Mark King 13-9 to seal his place in the last eight, while Ricky Walden held off a late comeback by fellow Englishman Robert Milkins to win 13-11.