After his spellbinding performance against Jack Lisowski in the quarter-finals, Ronnie was always going to struggle to replicate the same standard. He was actually well below par at the start of the match, and, although he improved mid-match, he was never close to the perfection he had shown against Jack. What he DID show though was remarkable determination and will to win despite the struggles, the misses and the the frustration.
Here are the scores:
O’Sullivan Beats Hawkins To Equal Record
Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 3-0 down to beat Barry Hawkins 6-4 at the Cazoo Players Championship and reach a record-equalling 57th ranking event final.
After the effortlessness of last night’s win over Jack Lisowski, this time O’Sullivan was given a much tougher examination, but came out on top to set up a clash on Sunday with John Higgins or Kyren Wilson. Only Stephen Hendry has appeared in as many ranking finals.
O’Sullivan has won 37 of his previous 56, but has lost three in a row this season. He was beaten by Judd Trump at the Northern Ireland Open, Mark Selby at the Scottish Open, and surprisingly by Jordan Brown at the BetVictor Welsh Open five days ago. The 45-year-old has bounced back quickly from that setback and has another opportunity to capture his first silverware since landing his sixth World Championship crown last August.
Both players missed chances in the opening frame tonight and Hawkins won it on the colours, then he made breaks of 109 and 87 to extend his lead. Frame four came down to a safety battle with two reds remaining, and O’Sullivan trapped his opponent in a tough snooker, then scored the points he needed from the chance that followed to gain a foothold in the match at 3-1.
After the interval, O’Sullivan found a scoring groove, winning four frames in 48 minutes with 83, 75, 90 and 79. Hawkins took frame nine with an 81 to draw within one at 5-4.
In frame ten, O’Sullivan led 32-24 when he missed a red to a top corner. Hawkins replied with 38 then was unlucky not to finish on a red when he cannoned a cluster of three near the baulk cushion. A tactical exchange ended with a botched safety from Hawkins, letting O’Sullivan in to clear with 42 for victory.
“It was a tough match, I wasn’t at the races early on,” said world number two O’Sullivan, who won this event in 2018 and 2019. “I had to find a way of getting back into the match and after the interval I managed to play better.
“In the last frame I was getting tight, I knew I would miss something. Barry was looking good for 5-5, but he was unlucky when he cannoned the reds.”
Earlier today O’Sullivan watched a masterclass from John Higgins, beating Mark Selby 6-0, and the Essex cueman knows it will be a formidable task if he faces Higgins in the final.
“It was ridiculous, I couldn’t watch in the end. It was so granite, it was evil,” said O’Sullivan in admiration. “John showed what a class player he is because Selby is one of the best in the business at those type of matches. It was the toughest matchplay I’ve ever seen, it was bordering on the obscene.
“How can you be that tough? It’s not easy to play defensive snooker that well. John and Mark are better at it than anyone. It’s a waste of time for me to try because I can do it for 80% of the time, then mess up with one shot. But those guys are very astute, it was real purists’ stuff. If I play John in the final and he does that to me, I’ll be sitting in my chair a lot.”
PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP 2021: ‘IT WAS HORRENDOUS’ – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN BEATS ‘TWITCHES’ TO REACH FINAl
Ronnie O’Sullivan held his nerve amid the torment of the dreaded “twitches” to reach the Players Championship final with a 6-4 win over Barry Hawkins having trailed 3-0 in their semi-final in Milton Keynes. The world champion will face John Higgins or Kyren Wilson in the final on Sunday with a £125,000 top prize on the line as he chases his first ranking event victory of the campaign.
Ronnie O’Sullivan overcame Barry Hawkins and a bout of the “twitches” to complete a 6-4 win in the Players Championship semi-finals at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Less than 24 hours after he produced a majestic display in a 6-1 drubbing of Jack Lisowski in a quarter-final lasting only 78 minutes, O’Sullivan was forced to scrap his way to victory against Hawkins having looked all at sea in falling 3-0 behind to the man he defeated in the 2013 world final.
“I was waiting around all day. It felt like forever and I thought I was going to play useless tonight,” said O’Sullivan, who will meet John Higgins or Kyren Wilson in Sunday’s final.
YOU HAVE ALL THOSE THOUGHTS GOING AROUND YOUR HEAD.
“If you start struggling, you feel like you have wasted a day. It was a struggle at the start.
“I had some chances. Barry played well, every credit to him, but I just had to hang in there.
EVEN TOWARDS THE END, I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO MISS SOMETHING. I WAS GETTING REALLY TIGHT IN THE END AND TWITCHING. IT WAS HORRENDOUS, THE TWITCHES.
“It’d be great to win on Sunday. I’m pleased I’ve got a day off. I don’t know if the nine-mile run had an effect, but I’m not going to stop. It’s the best thing in my life at the moment,” he added.
“I was twitching there at the end and Barry should have had me. I got lucky there.”
Hawkins, who completed a 6-2 win over 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the last eight, edged an error-strewn opening frame before breaks of 109 and 87 saw him gallop 3-0 clear of the world number two.
O’Sullivan stemmed the tide by winning the fourth frame and further timely knocks of 83, 75, 90 and 79 saw him reel of four straight frames for a 5-3 advantage.
An 81 by Hawkins extended the match to a tenth and penultimate frame with the world number 18 narrowly failing to gain position on the final three reds in baulk.
It proved a pivotal error as a safety mistake moments later saw O’Sullivan return to the table to clear up and pinch the frame and final spot by only four points on the black.
“Barry is a class act, and plays a great game. He’s a fantastic player. I just had to grind it out to stay in there,” said the 37-times ranking event winner, who lost 9-8 to Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final last Sunday.
“The continuous tournament keeps going.”
O’Sullivan could face old rival Higgins for the first time in a ranking event final since the 2005 Grand Prix with the four-times world champion dismissing Mark Selby 6-0 in the final quarter-final on Friday.
Higgins faces Kyren Wilson in the second semi-final on Sunday evening.
“I don’t want to be having wars and tough matches,” said O’Sullivan, who has equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of appearing in 57 ranking event finals.
“I want to go out and play half decent. I was watching Selby and Higgins today, and I struggle to watch that because that’s not the way I want to play snooker.
I HAVEN’T GOT THE STAMINA OR THE ENERGY TO WANT TO TOUGH THEM GAMES OUT. IT FELT A LITTLE BIT LIKE THAT TONIGHT AND THIS IS WHAT MATCH SNOOKER IS. IT IS HARD. YOU WANT TO GO OUT AND ENJOY YOURSELF WITH THE RESULT BECOMING SECONDARY.
“Why am I putting myself through the grind? I was feeling it. It’s tough.“
Ronnie has never been the best at dealing with hanging around for hours waiting for his match to start. That won’t happen on Sunday. However, whoever he faces, it will be though.
He’s into his fourth final this season, but still waiting for a title. He has an opportunity to put that right tomorrow, but it will not be easy, no matter who wins tonight: both Kyren and John look in ominous form.
Here is the post-match with WST:
There also share this short video, showing Ronnie’s exemplary pack split