It wasn’t the best of performance from either player, but it was engrossing all the same as both Ronnie and Kyren Wilson played some great shots mixed with unexpected misses. Eventually, it was Ronnie who found something in the last mini session and prevailed by 10-6. Ronnie will play either Ding Junhui or Barry Hawkins on Sunday, and should he win he would become the first man to win the Shanghai Masters three times as well as the first to defend this particular title.
Victory for the Rocket ended a 19-match winning streak for Wilson, who had previously won back-to-back titles at the Paul Hunter Classic and Six Red World Championship.
O’Sullivan is now one win away from defending the title he won here in Shanghai a year ago, when he defeated Judd Trump 10-3 in the final. He will face Ding Junhui or Barry Hawkins in the final on Sunday, with the winner to receive £200,000.
O’Sullivan led 5-4 after the afternoon session, then Wilson got the better of the early exchanges in the evening session to level at 6-6.
Both players missed chances in the crucial 13th frame, Wilson failing to pot frame-ball blue to a baulk corner, allowing his opponent to clear to the black to move 7-6 in front. From there, O’Sullivan didn’t look back and powered to the finish line with breaks of 88, 60 and 84.
O’Sullivan has never faced Ding in a final in China, and admitted that he would relish a clash with the Asian number one.
“I’d really enjoy it,” said the 42-year-old. “It would be fantastic to play Ding. I have always enjoyed having the crowd against me. It has always spurred me on to be a party pooper. Especially when I played Stephen Hendry in Scotland or Ken Doherty in Ireland. You get psyched up for it because you feel like you aren’t just playing against your opponent. You are also playing against the crowd.
“I’d love to have more battles with Kyren. He is a great competitor and a great guy. He has some of the qualities that the older generation have. He loves the sport, gives it everything and pays attention to detail.”
A disappointed Wilson felt that he spurned too many opportunities to win the match.
He admitted: “It was a really scrappy and poor match. Ronnie didn’t play to his usual best. That was probably his C game. It was nice to see him try hard. In the past he might have thrown the towel in. It is probably testament to my own ability that he feels like he has got to try as I am one of the young guns coming through. However, you have to take your opportunities and I didn’t.”
As well as a few images thanks to Tai Chengzhe
Here is a short video with (an excerpt of) Ronnie’s post-match, in which he reveals a bit about how he wants to conduct his season
It might not be what fans want, but it’s how he feels about it at this moment in time, and if, when he plays, he plays great and enjoys it, that’s good enough for me! After all, since the start of the 2017/18 season, Ronnie has entered, 16 events, made it to the final 8 times and won 5, which could become 6 by Sunday night. We shouldn’t complain!
Here is the match: