2021 Tour Championship – SF: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 Barry Hawkins

Yesterday’s semi-final was not for the faint of heart! It was arguably the best match of the tournament so far. Ronnie came from 9-6 down to beat Barry by 10-9.

Here are the scores ans stats:

2021TourChampionshipROS-HawkinsSF-Scores2021TourChampionshipROS-HawkinsSF-Stats

Barry was the better player, but Ronnie showed incredible resilience, and produced some incredible snooker in patches as well.

Here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

O’Sullivan and Hawkins All Square

2021TourChampionshipROS-1World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and world number 13 Barry Hawkins are locked level at 4-4 after the first session of their Cazoo Tour Championship semi-final at the Celtic Manor Resort.

The Rocket holds a superior head-to-head record with the Hawk, having won 15 of their 17 career meetings. However, Hawkins came into today’s encounter high on confidence after defeating world number one Judd Trump in the quarters. O’Sullivan beat four-time Crucible king John Higgins to reach the last four.

The match will be played to a conclusion from 7pm, where the first player to reach ten frames will clinch a spot in the final. They will face Neil Robertson in the title match with a top prize of £150,000 on the line.

It was Hawkins who started fastest this afternoon, firing in back-to-back century runs of 125 and 138, before adding the third frame to lead 3-0. However, O’Sullivan then mounted a comeback charge.

The 37-time ranking event winner composed breaks of 50, 65, 63, 61 and 94 to take four on the bounce to turn the game on its head and lead 4-3. Hawkins refused to wilt to the onslaught and made a break of 65 to take the final frame of the afternoon and end level at 4-4.

Evening session

Rocket Fightback Floors Hawk

2021TourChampionshipROS-5World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan battled back from 9-6 down to beat Barry Hawkins 10-9 in a thrilling semi-final at the Cazoo Tour Championship.

Hawkins looked set for a comfortable victory until he missed a red on 46 in the 16th frame. O’Sullivan stepped up and produced a stunning clearance of 71 to keep his hopes alive at 9-7 and from there he turned the tide completely.

The Rocket then fired in a break of 90 to pull within a frame at 9-8. A dramatic 18th frame came down to the colours, with Hawkins eventually missing a tricky green and affording O’Sullivan the opportunity to deposit a thin cut, which put him level at 9-9.

O’Sullivan led 48-0 in the decider, before missing a mid-range red. The Hawk had looked set to pounce, but a missed cut back black saw him spurn his opportunity for victory. Eventually O’Sullivan decisively potted a long red from a loose Hawkins safety to get himself over the line and set up a meeting with Neil Robertson in the final.

The pair came into the evening level at 4-4 after the first session. Hawkins played superb snooker to blitz to his 9-6 advantage, making breaks of 74, 50, 103, 56 and 73. The loss will be all the harder to take considering he was also defeated 6-5 from 5-1 up against Judd Trump in their German Masters semi-final last month.

O’Sullivan will now compete in the 58th ranking final of his career. That sees him clinch the record for ranking final appearances, moving clear of Stephen Hendry who is on 57.

The 37-time ranking event winner holds a 17-8 lead in head-to-head meetings with Robertson. He’ll be hoping to enhance that record and add a first title of the season tomorrow, when they will compete over the best of 19 frames for a top prize of £150,000.

O’Sullivan has lost all four of his final appearances so far this season, having been runner-up at the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open, Welsh Open and the Cazoo Players Championship.

Following this evening’s victory, 45-year-old O’Sullivan said: “Barry was cueing well, potting a lot of long balls and scoring well. I felt he was the better player all the way through, until he missed that red at 9-6. I started to play with a bit more freedom then. It is strange how snooker matches can pan out.

It’s tough. A couple of times I’ve lost matches like that when I’ve been in winning positions. That’s sometimes how it goes. I feel for Barry. I hope he can take the positives out of it. He played very well this week and his game is in good shape.

“I’m sure Neil is going to show up and play. He is Mr Consistency. The way he strikes the ball there is not a lot that can go wrong with him. I’m going to have to find some kind of level to make it a game.

Hawkins said: “I don’t think I’ve done that much wrong. The clearance he made to keep himself in the match absolutely killed me. My head was spinning after that. He made it look so easy. More often than not you think you might have a chance to get back to the table. It is a hard one to take.

“I’ve done well to get in the tournament in the first place. Once you are in it and you are playing well and have a chance to win and get to the final, it is just hard to take. You don’t think about all of the other stuff.

And this is Ronnie’s assesment of the match with Eurosport:

Tour Championship 2021 – Ronnie O’Sullivan: Barry Hawkins deserved to beat me in semi-final

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted that he had no right to win his Tour Championship semi-final against Barry Hawkins on Saturday. The Rocket was 9-6 down but put together an amazing comeback to win four straight frames and book his place in the final on Sunday, when he will face Neil Robertson for his first trophy since winning the World Championship in August.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has admitted that he “got out of jail” and deserved to lose to Barry Hawkins in his Tour Championship semi-final match on Saturday.

The Rocket was 9-6 down but launched an incredible comeback against an opponent who showed signs of nerves and he closed in on another big win to follow his quarter-final victory against Judd Trump.

But O’Sullivan believes it would have only been fair if he had been on the losing side, while praising Hawkins for the hard work he has put in on his game.

He deserved to win, really, I feel for Barry because he’s been grafting at his game, I know he’s been working hard this year,” the world champion told ITV4.

He’s been unlucky with a few results. He deserved that victory tonight for the effort he’s put in all season. It’s a horrible way to lose but hopefully he can respond because he played great today, he was cuing well, he looked confident. He outplayed me really, I just got out of jail.

O’Sullivan began his week by complaining about his cue and admitted that he was not happy with his game until he decided to take a more positive approach when staring defeat in the face.

The cue still needs a bit of work, it still feels really heavy and out of balance. It is what it is,” he explained.

“I was just looking for a cue action from start to finish. I felt like I was swinging my arm at everything.

It felt like my arm didn’t belong to my body so I thought I’d found something at 7-5 and thought it’d be great if I could keep this going, but then I didn’t
get a shot from 7-6 to 9-6.

I thought that as long as I got a chance and was cuing alright, I’d be alright. I just changed my trajectory for how I was attacking the ball. I thought I could be a bit more positive with it and start playing with a bit more confidence.

The Tour Championship is being played at the Celtic Manor resort, away from the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes which for a long time had been the home of snooker behind closed doors.

It’s a lot better than Milton Keynes – Category A prison there,” he joked.

I’ve seen enough of them over the years! I’ve spent far too long there. That’s a sad gaffe, I didn’t enjoy that towards the end. So it’s nice to come to a nice resort and the food’s good and you can see some greenery and trees.

It’s just a nice place. Milton Keynes is not the best place, but it served its purpose.

There were a few images shared on social media, mainly by WST:

And some short videos as well

The extraordinary clearance Ronnie made to stay in the match in frame 16:

WST also shared the great 138 that Barry made in the second frame on their YouTube channel:

This is currently the highest break of the tournament.

Ronnie will face Neil Robertson today in the final, his fifth ranking final of the season. He lost all previous four. Can he win this time?  I’m not sure and here is why:

  • He’s playing with a damaged cue and doesn’t feel comfortable with it
  • Neil had two easy wins, whilst Ronnie had two very hard matches. In addition, Neil had a rest day, whilst Ronnie had a late finish yesterday and, the clocks being changed overnight as we enter “summer time” have made his night even shorter.

However some elements might play in his favour:

  • He goes into this match with low expectations which might help him by lowering the pressure.
  • He has a great head-to-head against Neil, which may put Neil under pressure a bit if Ronnie can stay with him, or gets on a come-back trail.

A win for Ronnie today would be fantastic, especially as it would be his first of the season. It would also see him snatch the Cazoo bonus. It would also put a little bit of pressure on Judd Trump as it would put Ronnie in a position to get back to world number one after the Crucible. For that to happen though, Judd needs to lose in the first round AND Ronnie needs to defend his title. Not a very likely combination but you never know…

A win for Neil Robertson would see him swap places with Mark Selby in the Crucible seedings:

The Cazoo Tour Championship represents the final chance for the eight players competing to add prize money to their ranking totals prior to next month’s Betfred World Championship.

LATEST PROVISIONAL DRAW (27/03/2021):

Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) / Qualifier

Anthony McGill (16) / Qualifier

Ding Junhui (9) / Qualifier

Stephen Maguire (8) / Qualifier

————————————

John Higgins (5) / Qualifier

Mark Williams (12) / Qualifier

Mark Allen (13) / Qualifier

Neil Robertson (4) / Qualifier

————————————

Mark Selby (3) / Qualifier

Jack Lisowski (14) / Qualifier

Barry Hawkins (11) / Qualifier

Kyren Wilson (6) / Qualifier

————————————

Shaun Murphy (7) / Qualifier

Yan Bingtao (10) / Qualifier

David Gilbert (15) / Qualifier

Judd Trump (2) / Qualifier

Players will be marked in bold once their positions cannot change.

Whatever happens today, what we have seen from Ronnie so far in this tournament is very positive. His attitude has been excellent and the two matches he had are great match practice ahead of his World title defence.


 

First session – missing clip 

Second session

5 thoughts on “2021 Tour Championship – SF: Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 Barry Hawkins

  1. Oh, the heart of this man! It felt like being rolled over by a truck, so good was Barry till frame 16. Ronnie must be so tired, though otherwise I’d expect that the competitive matches he played did him good, but I’m just terrified by the brutality of best if 25 in two sessions instead of 3 like at the Worlds.

    On another note, you bet I would love your scenario for Ronnie regaining #1 come true and the least for the ranking itself. 😛

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