The defending Champion is through to the Final, without really hitting his best form. Yesterday he whitewashed Mark Allen in the second semi-final. Mark was poor all match. This is Ronnie’s sixth final this season, of eight events he entered. Not bad!
O’Sullivan will face Neil Robertson over 19 frames at the Guild Hall in Preston on Sunday, with the winner to take the trophy and top prize of £125,000.
It’s 26 years since O’Sullivan reached his first ranking final at the same venue at the 1993 UK Championship, beating Stephen Hendry to win it at the age of 17. He is now aiming for a 35th ranking title, which would bring him within one of Hendry’s record of 36.
Chigwell’s O’Sullivan has been remarkably prolific this season; of the nine tournaments he has contested he has reached six finals. The 43-year-old has won the Shanghai Masters, Champion of Champions and UK Championship, and finished runner-up to Judd Trump at the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters. If he wins tomorrow his prize money for the season will go past the £750,000 mark.
While tonight’s scoreline was one-sided, O’Sullivan in fact was far from his best, managing just two breaks over 50. His career century tally remains at 997 so he will need three in the final to reach the 1,000 milestone.
Northern Ireland’s Allen has won two ranking titles this season but couldn’t find any rhythm this time. He had chances in each of the first five frames but managed a high break of just 33. O’Sullivan made a top break of 84 in going 5-0 ahead and secured victory in the sixth with a 59.
“I played pretty well,” said world number three O’Sullivan. “I seemed to adapt to the conditions a bit better than Mark. I’m pleased to be in the final, I will enjoy it. I like this venue, I’ve been coming here since 1993 and I’ve had a few other finals. It’s a great venue, a great tournament and a knowledgeable crowd. The fans get into their snooker and they know the game.
“I’m expecting a tight match tomorrow, it could be tense. I’m going to have fun and try to hang on to his coat tails.”
Allen said: “I played poorly and didn’t handle the conditions. I got as much as I deserved from the match. You can’t afford to make the mistakes I made tonight against anyone. It’s disappointing because I didn’t come here to get to the semi-finals, I come to tournaments to win them.”
Ronnie was very critical of the conditions as you can hear, but without aggression. His own assessment is that he’s playing well but the conditions prevented both players to show their best.
Huge thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those great images!