So, today Ronnie will play Judd Trump in the final. How did we get there?
Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated David Gilbert 5-2 to set up a blockbuster semi-final clash with Mark Selby at the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.
O’Sullivan secured this evening’s victory with breaks of 51, 83, 102, 75 and 85, which ensured his progression to face three-time World Champion Selby tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.
The O’Sullivan and Selby rivalry has seen the pair do battle in the final of all three of snooker’s Triple Crown events and is arguably the most prominent clash in the sport today.
The Rocket holds the upper hand in their head-to-head record, leading 13-9. However, they haven’t faced each other on the World Snooker Tour in almost two years. Their most recent meeting came in the 2016 UK Championship final, where the Jester from Leicester won 10-7 to take home the title.
Following today’s match five-time World Champion O’Sullivan said: “I remember when I was playing against people like Stephen Hendry when he was number one and you have to just give it your all. It doesn’t get any tougher than playing Mark Selby in a semi-final, but that is what you practise for and what you look forward to.”
Selby secured his place in the semis by winning an engrossing contest with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 5-3.
The match was always set to be a high quality encounter, with both players showing fine form this week. Thailand’s Un-Nooh produced an astonishing last 16 performance to beat Robbie Williams 4-0 in just 37 minutes. While world number one Selby has now compiled 20 breaks over 50 in the 27 frames he has played this week.
Un-Nooh came firing out of the blocks and made a break of 80 and take the opening frame. Selby responded with a run of 67, before Un-Nooh edged a tight third frame to go 2-1 up.
The Jester from Leicester landed a crucial blow before the mid-session, potting a tough final pink and black to ensure they went into the break all-square at 2-2. The following two frames were shared, before Selby forced his way over the line to claim the 5-3 victory.
Judd Trump came through a tough match with Ryan Day 5-3 to secure his semi-final spot.
The Ace in the Pack has produced some sublime snooker this week and continued to dazzle the Belfast crowds today, making breaks of 66, 73, 66 and 120 on his way to the win.
His opponent in the last four will be Eden Sharav, who completed a superb fightback 5-4 victory over 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon.
Sharav trailed 4-1, but after clawing his way back to 4-4 he capped off a marathon win with a break of 44 under severe pressure in the decider. This result books him his maiden ranking event semi-final appearance, having only just reached the quarters for the first time this week as well.
The match between Peter Ebdon and Eden Sharav was in total contrast with what we have seen most of the week. In many ways it was old-school snooker, hypnotically slow at times. Somehow Eden managed to freeze Peter Ebdon out and break any rhythm he may have had , which is quite some feat as this is what Peter has done to others so many times. Especially during Eden’s fightback, it was a fragmented, methodical affair. It was like watching in slow motion, at least it’s how it felt to me. Maybe the fact that it was nearly 2 am where I am when it finished has something to do with that feeling.
Judd Trump is through to the final of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open after defeating world number 77 Eden Sharav 6-3 in Belfast.
Trump, who has eight ranking titles to his name, will now be hoping to end his silverware drought which extends back to the 2017 European Masters, where he defeated Stuart Bingham 9-7 to take home the title.
To do so he will have to come out on top in what is set to be a blockbuster clash with five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has won the last three meetings between the pair. They will do battle over the best of 17 frames for the £70,000 top prize.
Despite being a difficult defeat for Sharav, he goes away with the consolation of £20,000 and having achieved the best ranking run of his career so far. Previously he had never been beyond the last 16 stage.
The Ace in the Pack came flying out of the traps this evening, firing in breaks of 54, 107 and 68 as he moved into an early 3-0 advantage. At that point Sharav looked to be on the ropes, but he made an important clearance of 65 before the mid-session to go into the break 3-1 down.
That didn’t look to have done much to deter Trump when the players emerged. He compiled a sublime century run of 108 to move further ahead at 4-1. However, Sharav showed great character in what was the biggest match of his career so far, taking the next two frames to pull within one.
Trump wasn’t to be denied, claiming two on the bounce and composing a break of 97 in the process, to secure his place in the final against O’Sullivan.
“It was important to get off to a good start. He is a little bit slower than I am, so it could have gone a bit scrappy. I felt confident out there,” said Trump. “I think the fans here are very passionate. It could be a bit rowdy tomorrow and a good atmosphere. The table is playing lovely so hopefully we can live up the hype and produce some good snooker.
“It is nice going out there knowing that I am confident. I have played well all week and haven’t really put in any bad performances. I’ve been consistent and I have had that form for one or two months. I think it is more enjoyable going out and knowing you will play well. Hopefully tomorrow I can just play my game, not let the standards slip and make him work for it.”