Hector Nunns take on Ronnie’s sixth Masters

O’SULLIVAN RAISES THE BAR YET AGAIN

O'SULLIVAN RAISES THE BAR YET AGAIN

Ronnie O’Sullivan was in the history-making mood at Alexandra Palace on Sunday night as he equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of six Dafabet Masters titles.

The Rocket did it in the grand manner, reeling off a perfect 10 frames in a row to beat a demoralised Barry Hawkins 10-1. That has never before been done at the Masters.

It was the biggest winning margin since Steve Davis whitewashed Mike Hallett 9-0 back in 1988, also the last time there was an all-English line up from the semi-finals onwards.

Not bad for someone who could have been forgiven some rustiness after his eight-month sabbatical, and O’Sullivan’s re-tuning plan worked to perfection.

He effectively sacrificed the German Masters by using those qualifiers for his very first matches back, and then tore through the Group One field at Crondon Park in the Championship League the week before the Masters.

O’Sullivan, who turned 40 in December, becomes the oldest player to win this title since his former mentor Ray Reardon in 1976 at the age of 43. With John Higgins back winning titles, the golden oldies are doing the game proud.

O’Sullivan said: “I am part of a right Dad’s Army, it’s like the OAPs out there with John Higgins also winning titles at 40. But it’s great to be competing, we should be in the Seniors really.

“I am never normally surprised to win tournaments but to get this one a little, the first big one back after eight months.

“But I still think if I can produce some form it doesn’t matter how long I take out, you have that talent and game if you can produce it. It is great to match Stephen’s record here, let’s hope I can win No7.”

Amid the great play and the eulogies and records, there were also plenty of parallels between this Masters success and the 2013 World Championship win for O’Sullivan, and not just because Hawkins was sitting in the other chair for the final.

Both came after him taking a long break away from the sport, and both also saw good players fail to produce their best against O’Sullivan even in the spells when he was not on top form.

This last aspect continues to frustrate some onlookers. There is no doubt how difficult a challenge O’Sullivan represents, and how much trouble he can leave opponents in on a regular basis.

That of course loads extra pressure on when the chances do come along, and only Mark Williams got close last week. Selby brought the best out of the now six-time winner, but Bingham and Hawkins could have done better.

It was the same in 2013 at the Crucible, when Ali Carter, Bingham and Judd Trump could not put enough pressure on him.

If you had to name four players who can genuinely take on O’Sullivan believing 100 per cent they can beat him, you are probably looking at Neil Robertson, Judd Trump, Higgins and Selby – possibly Shaun Murphy too.

Partly through the luck of the draw and partly through O’Sullivan not playing so much, Robertson simply has not run into the Rocket often enough for the neutral’s taste.

At the Masters he ran into an inspired Trump, the equivalent of an opening batsman getting out to an unplayable delivery. There was very little he could have done differently.

In their only three big matches in the last five years, there was a 6-1 win for Robertson in the 2015 Masters, a 6-5 win for O’Sullivan at the 2013 Champion of Champions, who also prevailed in a superb 13-10 contest at the 2012 World Championship.

If there was a wish for 2016, it would be that these two get paired together a bit more.

Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos

Day 8 – Ronnie wins the Masters 2016

Ronnie beat Barry Hawkins by 10-1, to win his sixth Masters trophy, now level with Stephen Hendry. Actually Barry won the first frame, before Ronnie produced a ruthless display of snooker. Even well ahead, he never got reckless. He played the right shots and showed full respect for his opponent.

Here is how the match unfolded:

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-1 Barry Hawkins

Scores (Ronnie first): 50-66; 97(70)-8; 136(136)-0; 73(52)-49; 72-28; 64-36; 77(77)-17; 72(72)-13; 58-39; 92(66)-0; 82(82)-0
Match Progress: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 5-1, 6-1, 7-1, 8-1, 9-1, 10-1
Centuries: O’Sullivan: 136
Referee: Olivier Marteel

RonnieWinner2

Read here World Snooker report:

Sunday 17 Jan 2016 08:47PM

Ronnie O'Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan won his sixth Dafabet Masters title with a 10-1 demolition of Barry Hawkins in the final.

O’Sullivan has now won snooker’s biggest invitation event six times, having previously lifted the trophy in 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2014, matching the record set by Stephen Hendry, who won five titles in a row from 1989-93 and another in 1996.

Watched by a capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 at Alexandra Palace in London, O’Sullivan banked the £200,000 top prize after dominating the final, making a century and  six more breaks over 50. It was the most one-sided Masters final since Steve Davis beat Mike Hallett 9-0 in 1988.

The 40-year-old from Chigwell has now won 16 Triple Crown tournaments, just two shy of Hendry’s record of 18, and he’s the oldest Masters champion since Ray Reardon won in 1976 age 43. In 22 appearances at the Masters, O’Sullivan has played 63 matches and reached 11 finals, both also records.

O’Sullivan took several months away from snooker at the start of this season, returning to action in mid-December and playing his first televised tournament this week. It was a triumphant return to the limelight, reminiscent of his 2013 World Championship victory (also coming with a final defeat of Hawkins) after almost a year’s sabbatical. Once again the Rocket has proved that his sheer natural brilliance can make up for any lack of competitive sharpness. At the very top level, he remains the man to beat.

He insists that a slipped disc in his lower spine has caused an imbalance in his cue action – yet he has produced spells of sublime snooker this week and has looked destined to win the trophy since coming from 4-2 down to beat Mark Williams 6-5 in the opening round. Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham were his other victims.

Hawkins may have been on the wrong end of an emphatic scoreline today but he must take heart from his run this week as he had never got past the first round in five previous Masters appearances. He goes back to Ditton with a cheque for £90,000 and a confidence boost ahead of a packed schedule in the coming months.

The match is here:

session 1

session 2 and trophy ceremony

The trophy ceremony

The Official photo album by Tai Chengzhe

Punditry:

MissingClip 2016 The Masters: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Barry Hawkins match (Session1, BBC)

MissingClip 2016 The Masters: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Barry Hawkins match (Session1, BBC)

MissingClip 2016 The Masters: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Barry Hawkins match (Session1, BBC)

MissingClip 2016 The Masters: preview of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Barry Hawkins match (Session2, BBC)

MissingClip 2016 The Masters: review of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Barry Hawkins match (BBC, Session2, trophy ceremony)

And finally celebrating with his friends…

Ronniewithteam

The Masters 2016 as it goes … Day 7

It was semi finals Saturday in Alexandra Palace.

In the afternoon match a very solid Barry Hawkins beat the favourite, Judd Trump, by 6-4. Barry had never before this year won a match at the Masters and is absolutely thrilled to play in the final today.

The evening match was a bit strange as Ronnie O’Sullivan mixed sheer brilliance and unexpected errors in beating the World Champion Stuart Bingham by 6-3. Ronnie was very unhappy with his form after the match and said he felt embarrassed. Only the crowd helped him not to throw the towel at times. He will need to play much better against Barry Hawkins if he wants to secure a sixth Master title. It was Ronnie’s 62th match at the Masters, a record, and today will be his 11th final in 22 appearances. Some tally!

You can browse through my photos on facebook

And you can listen to the players postmatch interviews on my soundcloud channel

As usual cuetracker.net provides all the scores and details about the matches.

The Masters 2016 – SF – Ronnie beats Stuart Bingham by 6-3

It was far from straightforward for Ronnie tonight and the score doesn’t reflect how hard this match was. From the start Ronnie looked vulnerable. He was missing balls he wouldn’t normally miss, ran out of position numerous time and looked extremely upset and frustrated with his game. But somehow he held it together, stole frames he should have lost and won. How? I honestly don’t know! In his press conference he said that he’s struggling with his game since he hurt his back in October and was really all over the place tonight.

This, by the way, was Ronnie 62th match in the Masters, a new record. Jimmy White had 61.

This is how it unfolded:

Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-3 Stuart Bingham
Scores (Ronnie first): 59(59)-76(63); 63-40; 63-45; 74(70)-22; 121(121)-0; 69-67(67); 0-81(81); 9-75(52); 62-61
Match Progress: 0-1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 6-3
Centuries: Ronnie O’Sullivan: 121
Referee: Colin Humphries

Here is the video of match:

The interview in the studio post-match:

Some images of the match:

The players quotes (excerpt from World Snooker report)

“Stuart will feel that was one that got away,” said O’Sullivan. “If he had played the way he did at Sheffield he would have beaten me 6-1. It’s difficult at times because my touch and feel is so bad. I am butchering everything and I feel embarrassed. I’m not sure if it’s my back problem but my body and cue feel disconnected.

“I’m scared of going out there because I’m struggling with my game. I’m petrified, but I’ve got to go and do it. I’m like a golfer who faces a seven foot putt and hits it eight feet past the hole. 

“Stephen Hendry should be the man to keep the records. I don’t deserve to be breaking the records that he and Steve Davis set because they were masters of the game. I believe in karma and my back going could be punishment for not focussing on snooker enough over the past two or three years. I’m not the same player I was three years ago.

“Barry Hawkins is scared of no one. If I play like I did tonight I expect him to rip into me and eat me for breakfast. If I play like I did against Mark Selby I’ll have a chance. Mentally I have been good this week and I won’t throw the towel in.” 

Bingham said: “I was 3-1 down at the interval and I should have been 3-1 up. When you play Ronnie you have to take your chances. I pulled a couple back but then he potted the last red and cleared up – that’s Ronnie. He looked as if he’d had enough and didn’t care, and it’s hard to play against that because he goes for everything. When he’s sharp he doesn’t go for those type of shots.”

Tomorrow Ronnie will face Barry Hawkins in a rematch of the 2013 World Final. This is Ronnie’s 11th final at the Masters in 22 appearances. If he manages to win the Final he will equal Stephen Hendry’s tally of six Masters titles. It won’t be easy …

Hopefully with the support of his team and friends he can do it!

TeamRocket
picture posted on twitter by Jason Francis

The Masters 2016 – Hector Nunns Semi Finals preview

A SEMI-FINALS DAY TO SAVOUR AT THE MASTERS

A SEMI-FINALS DAY TO SAVOUR AT THE MASTERS

Saturday is semi-finals day at the Dafabet Masters – and the line-up is strong, intriguing and contains various sub-plots as the remaining quartet vies for glory and the £200,000 first prize.

The afternoon contest will feature Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins, and after his terrific quarter-final victory and display over Neil Robertson this is exactly the kind of match where the Juddernaut can get caught out after a barnstorming performance.

Robertson arrived in London as the season’s in-form player, having won the Champion of Champions and then the UK Championship in December. In his own words, “It was going to take someone playing out of their skin to beat me this week”.

But it was almost as if Trump took that as a personal challenge as he rattled in four centuries in a record-breaking total of six for a best-of-11 frame match, one of the greatest seen in this famous tournament’s illustrious history.

World No5 Trump, though, is at a stage in his career when he needs to make these extraordinary performances count with trophies, and he knows it. The collapse against Liang Wenbo at the UK, losing 6-4 from 4-1 up, clearly stung him more than any previous defeat and he responded by practicing like a demon over Christmas.

Hawkins, incredibly, had never won a Masters match before this year. Anyone tempted to overlook his chances or underrate his ability need only looks at his record at the last three world championships – final, semi-final, semi-final.

Trump will deservedly be favourite, but the days of Hawkins being an easier draw at the latter stages of a major event are long gone, and he will punish any errors from the 26-year-old, and capitalise on any dip in performance level.

Then in the evening Ronnie O’Sullivan, back on the big stage after his latest eight-month sabbatical last year, has the chance for some revenge over reigning world champion Stuart Bingham.

Bingham, who took full advantage of a totally out of sorts John Higgins on Friday night, beat the Rocket in the quarter-finals at the Crucible last year en route to his debut world title.

Five-time Masters winner O’Sullivan said with a smile this week “I probably owe Stuart one”, and Bingham, like Hawkins, is someone none of the bigger names will ever take lightly ever again.

O’Sullivan loves everything about this tournament. The single table set-up, the atmosphere, the huge partisan crowd in his corner, and the proximity to his Essex home. The usual celebrity posse can be expected in his corner.

Bingham is one of the nicest and most genuine people on the tour. He insists he is just happy to be there, playing the best player in the world on such a huge stage with a good few coming to support him from Basildon.

But no one content only with taking part could have enjoyed the success Bingham enjoyed last season. There is a new confidence against the best players now, and much like the other semi-final, any faltering from favourite O’Sullivan will be leapt on.

Bingham by his own admission has struggled with some of the pressures, expectations and distractions that come with being world champion this season, but at the Masters the spotlight has been on others, and he has looked very relaxed.

Two great matches in prospect – bring it on.

 

Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos

To this I’ll add just one thing: Ronnie will play his 62th match at the Masters tonight, setting a new record. At the time of writing he’s tied with Jimmy White at 61.

The Masters 2016 as it goes … Day 6

The second day of the quarter finals lived to expectations.

Judd Trump beat Neil Robertson in a deciding frame, after a battle that saw them score six centuries between them – four for Judd, two for Neil – and beat the tournament high break twice, first when Neil made a 139, only for Judd to top it with a 140. Six centuries in a best of eleven match is setting a new record.

Stuart Bingham, the reigning World Champion beat John Higgins by 6-3 despite John making the only century of that match, a 120. But otherwise John was struggling badly whilst Stuart although not outstanding was solid and made it count when it mattered

You can browse through my photos on Facebook

And you can listen to the players postmatch interviews on my soundcloud channel

As usual cuetracker.net provides all the scores and details about the matches.

The Masters 2016 as it goes … Day 5

Day 5 at The Masters in Alexandra Palace saw the start of the Quarter Finals stage.

In the first match of the day, Ronnie beat Mark Selby by 6-3, finishing with a 73 clearance to remember! You can read all about their match here.

In the evening, Barry Hawkins wasn’t spectacular but played very solid snooker to beat Mark Allen by 6-2. Mark had started the match with a century …

You can browse through my photos here on Facebook.

And you can listen to the players postmatch interviews on my soundcloud channel

As usual cuetracker.net provides all the scores and details about the matches.