Ronnie won two excellent matches to win Group 4 yesterday in Coventry and he will play Shaun Murphy in the first semi-final on Friday.
Ronnie has reached the final on all four occasions he played in the tournament, he won two of them and lost to John Higgins and Shaun Murphy respectively in 2016 and 2017. He’s now beaten Higgins in this one, can he beat Shaun as well? If he plays like he did yesterday, I think he will.
Here are the scores:
Ronnie O’Sullivan made four centuries as he beat John Higgins 6-3 in a clash of snooker titans at the ManBetX Champion of Champions to reach the semi-finals.
O’Sullivan won this event in 2013 and 2014 and has been runner-up in each of the last two years. In 2017 he lost to Shaun Murphy in the final, and the pair will meet again in the semis in Coventry on Friday evening.
World number three O’Sullivan beat Stuart Bingham 4-2 in his first match today, knocking in breaks of 109, 116, 68 and 60. Higgins edged out Ryan Day 4-3 with top runs of 106, 100 and 66.
A tremendous group final saw O’Sullivan go 2-0 up with 57 and 109 before Higgins replied with 91 then made a 70 clearance for 2-2. And the Scot took the lead with an 83 in frame five. O’Sullivan took just 47 minutes to win the last four frames, firing runs of 101, 137 and 114.
“I won a lot of frames in one visit,” said 42-year-old O’Sullivan, who has already won the Shanghai Masters this season. “If you can keep clearing up it’s a much smoother match. I’m not playing as much, enjoying the tournaments that I do play in and pacing myself. When I do play I give it my best.
“John Higgins and Stephen Hendry are the two greatest players I have played so I know I have to play brilliant snooker against John. You can sit in your chair for five or six frames and not get a shot, you’re always aware that could happen.”
A big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great images of the Group 4 final
Ronnie 4-2 Stuart Bingham
Ronnie 6-3 John Higgins
The MSI analysis:
Ronnie had a pot success over 95% in the Group final. He looked quite vulnerable for a frame and a half at the start of his first match, but then I suppose that, because he’s not been playing that much competitively, he was a bit anxious and unsure about his own form. After that he was impressive. His only relatively weaker point remains his break-off of which he often leaves a red to his opponent, albeit not necessarily an easy one. He “only” made six centuries on the day!
He also confirmed his intention to manage his playing schedule to suit his own needs rather than to fight for his ranking. That said, if he plays at the standard he produced yesterday, the rankings will sort themselves out.
Just a short word about the Higgins v Day match, which Higgins won by 4-3, but that, really, he should have lost. John Higgins didn’t play well at all for most of it, but Ryan Day somehow collapsed, as he has done so often in the past. Ryan has tremendous ability, and he’s a joy to watch when flowing but he remains very vulnerable mentally.