Ronnie had never been in front since Mark Selby peggeg him back at 5-5, early in the second session but he produced some magic to bring the match to a decider – from 9-13 and 14-16 down – and then win the said decider.
Here are the match numbers:
They played two sessions yesterday and those are the reports by WST:
Despite losing the last two frames of the third session, Mark Selby holds a 13-11 lead over Ronnie O’Sullivan going into the last chapter of their Betfred World Championship semi-final battle.
O’Sullivan looked a fading force at 13-9 behind, but crucially took the next two frames to reduce his deficit. They resume at 7pm on Friday with first to 17 frames to go through to the final to face Anthony McGill or Kyren Wilson.
Selby remains on course to beat O’Sullivan for a third time in three Crucible meetings, including the 2014 final when Selby came from 10-5 down to win 18-14. The Leicester cueman has reached the final four times and won three of those. O’Sullivan is playing in his 12th semi-final – equalling Stephen Hendry’s record – and hopes to lift the trophy for the sixth time on Sunday night.
A break of 97 gave Selby the opening frame this morning and put him 10-7 ahead. He had a chance in the next but missed a red to a top corner when leading 32-23, letting O’Sullivan in for a run of 45 which proved enough to take the frame.
Selby’s 68 gave him frame 19 and he was among the balls first in the 20th but missed the brown on 26, and O’Sullivan’s 68 made it 11-9 at the interval.
Two breaks of 72 saw Selby pull away to lead 13-9, and at that stage he had won 11 of the last 15 frames. He might have stretched his lead had he not missed a red on a run of 50 in the 23rd. The frame came down to the last red and O’Sullivan was fortunate to trap his opponent in a tough snooker, and from the chance that followed he cleared with 33 to pulled one back.
In the last frame of the session, Selby had one early chance but only made 8, and O’Sullivan made breaks of 46 and 41 to draw within two frames.
Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 16-14 down to beat Mark Selby 17-16 in a thrilling contest at the Betfred World Championship to set up a final clash with Kyren Wilson.
O’Sullivan took an instinctive, all-out-attack approach for much of the contest, often attempting outlandish pots rather than playing safe. On several occasions, including in the deciding frame, he escaped from snookers with cavalier power shots. In his post-match interviews, Selby accused his opponent of being “disrespectful” due to his shot selection.
But ultimately O’Sullivan’s method paid dividends as he reached the Crucible final for the seventh time and first since 2014. Victory would give him £500,000 and a sixth title, bringing him level with Steve Davis.
Over a possible 35 frames on Saturday and Sunday, O’Sullivan will face Wilson, who beat Anthony McGill 17-16 on an extraordinary day in Sheffield. It’s the first time in Crucible history that both semi-finals have gone to a deciding frame.
If he lifts the trophy, Chigwell’s 44-year-old O’Sullivan would become the oldest champion since Ray Reardon in 1978. He is on target for a 37th ranking title, which would move him one ahead of Stephen Hendry.
Three-time champion Selby played some of his best snooker of recent years in beating Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals and in spells against O’Sullivan. He may regret missing the chance to charge for the line when he led 13-9. But in the concluding session the standard was high and there was little Selby could do to stop O’Sullivan’s marvellous finish.
World number six O’Sullivan made a fast start to the session with a break of 114 to leave him 13-12 behind, then breaks of 47 and 57 in the next drew him level. O’Sullivan led 51-11 in the next when he tried to split a cluster of reds in potting the brown, but missed the pack and went in-off. That was a momentum shift as Selby cleared superbly with 56 to regain the lead.
Selby’s run of 63 put him 15-13 ahead and he looked set to extend his advantage in frame 29 until he missed a tricky pot on the penultimate red when leading 50-34. O’Sullivan cleared to narrow the gap.
Both players missed chances in frame 30 and it came down to a safety battle on the pink. Partially snookered, O’Sullivan trailed by six points then twice missed the pink, handing the frame to his opponent. The next two frames lasted just 16 minutes as O’Sullivan rattled in breaks of 138 and 71 to draw level at 16-16.
A thumping long red in the decider set O’Sullivan up for a break of 64, though he missed a red to a baulk corner when two pots from victory. Selby made 34 then failed to gain position on the last red and played safe. In a tactical exchange, O’Sullivan was twice trapped in difficult snookers but managed to escape. And when he had a chance at a tricky pot to a top corner he took it and added 17 points to clinch the result.
“Playing at the Crucible in big matches, you just want to find some solid shots,” said O’Sullivan. “There were spells where I was mis-hitting and not timing the shots well. You can get frustrated but I just tried to keep it together and compete. Mark was keeping me at bay and I didn’t think I could compete with him. I don’t know where the last three frames came from. I found some sort of magic towards the end, maybe from inspiration or desperation.
“When I was a kid I dreamed of playing at these tournaments, but as you get older you realise that it’s the game that fascinates you. I’d much rather be hitting good shots and striking the ball with authority – that’s where the enjoyment comes from. The by-product of that is that a bit of silverware comes your way. But every professional will tell you that if you are striking the ball well then you will have a chance to win tournaments.
“I am here to compete and even if I’m not striking it great and hitting some loose shots, I’ve got to stick in there and try to find bits of magic.”
Selby said: “I didn’t get much of a chance in the last three frames, apart from right at the end. I felt great – I felt like I was going to clear up. I just played a poor positional shot on the green. After that I played some good safety shots. Ronnie just kept getting out of snookers.
“During the match, I felt it was a little bit disrespectful, the way he played. Every time I put him in a snooker, he just got down and hit the balls at 100 miles an hour and they could have gone anywhere. I don’t know whether he was just in that frame of mind, but I felt it was a bit disrespectful to me at the table. In the last three frames he played great, I’ve got no complaints.
“Sometimes if you have no shot, you just hit them as hard as you can and hope to fluke one. Each time I had him in a snooker, he seemed to do it. Even if he had a chance to roll up to a ball, he would just come off the cushion. I just think it is disrespectful to the game and disrespectful to me in that particular match.”
In response to Selby’s comments, O’Sullivan said: “You want to hit it as hard as you can and hopefully get a fluke otherwise I could give 40 points away. If I was as good as Mark Selby at getting out of snookers, I could maybe get the balls safe.”
The final starts at 1.30pm on Saturday.
You can listen to Ronnie’s interviews here:
With the sponsor –
And about the “disrespect” bit as well as the return of a crowd:
As you can hear, Ronnie is not happy about having a crowd back … yeah another negative twat 😉
Regarding the “disrespect” bit, here is my take for what it’s worth.
Prior to the World Championship, Ronnie had been asked by Eurosport: “If you could have one match back and replay it, which would it be?”. Ronnie’s answer was “The 2014 Final”. In a way he got it yesterday. In that 2014 final, Ronnie lost to Mark Selby, from 10-4 up, because he got sucked in Marks’s game, allowed him to dictate the style and the pace and got mightily frustrated. It left him with huge scars.
Ahead of this match, I expected Ronnie to go all out attack because of what he had said to Eurosport. It was clear that he wanted another chance to find an answer to Mark’s game, and the key to that was always going to be able to stay in control of the pace and style of the match. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he refused to be dragged into lengthy safety exchanges and tried to keep the game open and not allow his opponent to make it awkward. I short, he played to his own strengths, not his opponent’s. He did to Mark, what Mark had done to him in 2014, he took him out of his comfort zone and it worked.
Asked his opinion, this was Stephen Hendry’s reaction:
At the time Mark Selby was praised for “finding a way” … Ronnie should be praised as well.