Ronnie beat Ding Junhui by 6-3, from 2-0 down, in the quarter-finals of the Players Championship in Llandudno. He also made three centuries in the process.
Ronnie will now face Judd Trump or Neil Robertson in the semi-final, tomorrow night
It was a slow start for O’Sullivan in Llandudno tonight as he lost the first two frames and could have gone 3-0 down. But the Rocket soon gathered pace and eventually ran out a comfortable winner to set up a meeting with Judd Trump or Neil Robertson on Friday evening (tickets still available – click here for details).
World number two O’Sullivan is into his fifth ranking event semi-final of the season – and on each of the four previous occasions he has reached that stage, he has gone on to win the tournament. Victory this week would see the 42-year-old equal the record for the most ranking titles in a single season, held by Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby.
The key moments of tonight’s match came in the third frame when China’s Ding, leading 2-0, missed a pink to a centre pocket on a break of 40 and later played a poor safety on the last red, which allowed his opponent to clear and snatch the frame. O’Sullivan then made a superb 134 to level at 2-2, and he won the next as well to take the lead.
Ding hit back with a run of 119 to level at 3-3, but O’Sullivan moved up a gear and reeled off the last three frames with runs of 55, 100 and 121. The last of those breaks was his 67th century of the season and 941st of his career.
“I’m pleased with how I changed the way I was playing after going 2-0 down,” said Chigwell’s O’Sullivan. “I decided to play aggressively, as if I was playing against a load of numpties in an exhibition, going for my shots and not caring if I missed. When I play my best, that’s how I’m thinking, playing the first shot that I see. That’s what helped me tonight. I wanted Ding to play well too because that spurs me on and makes it a great match.
“I’ll treat my next match like an exhibition as well, I’ll go out there and smash a few balls around and see what happens. If I lose I’ll still have fun. The key for me is to find ways to enjoy it, motivate myself and find that spark.”
Earlier, Judd Trump booked his spot in the QF, playing some good match snooker, and, quite surprisingly, Anthony McGill completely trashed John Higgins by 6-0.
Read Worldsnooker’s report here:
Anthony McGill ended a run of four consecutive defeats against John Higgins with a 6-0 whitewash to reach the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes Players Championship, while defending champion Judd Trump saw off Stephen Maguire 6-4.
Higgins has been in fine form this season, winning two ranking events and earning more money than any player other than Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams. He beat McGill at the Indian Open, Champion of Champions, the Masters and the Romanian Masters, but today the tables were turned.
World number 16 McGill goes through to face Shaun Murphy in Llandudno on Friday afternoon (tickets still available, click here for details).
In fact McGill was not at his best today but took advantage of numerous uncharacteristic errors from his fellow Scot. A break of 64 gave McGill the opening frame and he won the next two on the colours to make it 3-0. A run of 57 extended his lead before the interval.
Both players had chances in the fifth frame and it came down to a safety battle on the brown, McGill slotting in an excellent long pot for 5-0. World number five Higgins was on a break of 48 in the next when he ran out of position, and in frustration missed a near-impossible red. McGill kept his composure to clear with 61.
“It’s a strange result, especially as the way I played wasn’t incredible,” said 27-year-old McGill, who won two ranking titles last season and is chasing the third of his career this week. “We both played around the same level but I won all of the close frames. I know I’d lost four times to John this season but he’d probably do that against most players, that’s how good he is. It’s not a bad thing to lose to him because I always learn something and come away from it a better player. I tend to get more confidence from my performances than my results, although I’m delighted to beat John.”
Murphy is suffering from back and neck injuries, and McGill joked: “I’ll get him some extra hard pillows to make his neck even sorer – I’ll need all the help I can get! He has been one of the top players for well over a decade but I’ll give it my best shot.”
Higgins said: “It was a bad day at the office, my concentration was all over the place. My game wasn’t there and I didn’t put up any resistance. It’s disappointing because it’s a very big tournament. In the last couple of years I haven’t had many performances where there was just nothing there.”
Trump came through a tough battle against Maguire to set up a quarter-final clash with Neil Robertson on Thursday afternoon. World number three Trump is aiming to win the ninth ranking title of his career and to successfully defend a title for the second time this season having done so at the European Masters.
The high scoring continued after the interval as Maguire compiled runs of 58 and 102 to level at 3-3. The next two frames – scrappy affairs – were shared to leave the contest poised at 4-4. In the ninth, Maguire trailed by 33 points when he completely missed the last red while trying to play safe, and he conceded the frame in annoyance. Trump went on to clinch victory in the next with a 76.
“I felt good at the start, then started missing chances after the interval,” said 28-year-old Trump. “I’m happy with my game and this is an important tournament for me. I enjoy being in Llandudno, I always feel relaxed here. Neil Robertson will be a similar challenge, he plays a similar game to Stephen but scores a bit heavier when he’s playing well.”
The result means Maguire needs a deep run at the China Open – probably at least to the semi-finals – to have a chance of automatic qualification for the World Championship. Click here for the Race to the Crucible.
Thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those images
In case you missed it … as I did actually
2018 Players Championship QF: Ronnie O’Sullivan – Ding Junhui
2018 Players Championship: MSI of the Ronnie O’Sullivan – Ding Junhui QF match
And this was Ronnie’s preparation this time
I have been to Llandudno a few years back and I have to say the sceneries are breathtaking in the area. This hill Ronnie is climbing is situated at the end of the beach and it’s quite the sight… and most would be out of breath just walking to the top, it’s that steep in places!
And I also visited Anglesey (we had a day off). Follow the link to see more images of this beautiful region, well worth a visit.