Ronnie’s title defence came to an end at the hands of Anthony McGill, as he was beaten by 13-12 in a thrilling and high quality match.
Ronnie was totally outplayed by Anthony yesterday morning in the second session of the match. Ronnie looked very out-of-sorts, whilst Athony played nearly no-miss snooker. The defending champion kept himself in the match, only just, by winning two frames in the second mini-session. The session ended on a 10-6 score in favour of Anthony.
McGill Leads The Rocket
Anthony McGill placed himself firmly in the driving seat against defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, after establishing a 10-6 lead in their second round encounter at the Betfred World Championship.
The Scot had trailed six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan 4-1 during the opening session. However, he fought back to end yesterday’s play at 4-4. In the process, he spurned a golden opportunity for a 147, breaking down on 97 with the balls at his mercy. However, he quickly overcame the disappointment to establish a stranglehold on the tie.
McGill, who lost an epic semi-final against Kyren Wilson 17-16 last year, took the first four frames this morning to make it seven on the bounce in total. Breaks of 71, 126 and 89 helped him to move into a commanding 8-4 lead at the mid-session.
When play resumed O’Sullivan stopped the rot with a break of 92. However, runs of 105 and 56 moved McGill just three frames from a famous win. O’Sullivan ended the session with a contribution of 69 to remain in touch heading into the concluding session.
Needing to win seven of the last nine frames of the match, Ronnie came back fighting with all he had in the evening session. He won five consecutive frames to get ahead for the first time since frame 7.
It was Anthony who prevailed eventually in the deciding frame. Ronnie was first in the balls, but got a kick on a red at 37, leaving him on the wrong side of the blue. He still potted the blue but left himself a far too straight mid-pot and needing to screw back for a baulk colour. He missed it … and Anthony superbly held himself together to win with a great 85.
This is what Steve Davis said on twitter:
Amazing! If Ron doesn’t get the kick on the red then he wins it but then never seen him take so long deciding on a positional shot on the blue before playing a bad one. Anthony brilliant clearance!
McGill Stuns Champ O’Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hopes of winning a seventh Betfred World Championship title were dashed at the second round stage as Anthony McGill made a pair of fabulous breaks in the last two frames to win a Crucible classic 13-12.
O’Sullivan looked to have the momentum when he came from 10-5 down to lead 11-10 and then 12-11, but it was McGill who finished like a champion with a 136 total clearance in the penultimate frame and then a delightful 85 clearance, from 42-0 down, in the decider. The 30-year-old Scot described it as the best win of his career.
Having won a sixth crown eight months ago in Sheffield, 45-year-old O’Sullivan had hoped to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, but that ambition will have to wait for another year. He finishes the season without a trophy for the first time in his career.
McGill, who year-by-year is showing his capacity to thrive on the biggest stage, is the first man through to the quarter-finals, where he will face Jamie Jones or Stuart Bingham. He reached the semis last year before a devastating 17-16 defeat against Kyren Wilson, but the Glaswegian has now won three deciding frame thrillers within his last six Crucible matches.
Needing a strong start to the concluding session, O’Sullivan fired breaks of 71 and 97 to close to within two frames at 10-8. McGill had chances in frame 19 but twice missed a red to a top corner, and O’Sullivan punished him with 73. Frame 20 was a scrappy affair but again it went O’Sullivan’s way as he squared the match at 10-10.
McGill led 22-0 in frame 21 when he missed a tricky black to a baulk corner. O’Sullivan made 49 to take control of the frame and eventually sealed it on the colours. At that stage, McGill had lost six frames in a row, but he ended that sequence with an excellent break of 87 for 11-11.
In frame 23, McGill trailed 41-19 when he played a weak safety, and O’Sullivan added 31 to his tally which was enough to put him 12-11 ahead. Word number two O’Sullivan missed a long red at the start of frame 24 and his opponent capitalised with a 136, the fifth century of the match.
O’Sullivan had first chance in the decider and made 42 before running slightly out of position then missing a difficult mid-range red to a top corner. He spent the rest of the match in his seat. McGill was flawless as he picked off the balls to record his first win over O’Sullivan in seven meetings.
McGill has won two ranking titles – the 2016 Indian Open and 2017 Shoot Out – but has never been as proud of his own performance. “I played brilliant this morning, the best session I have played, taking into account the magnitude of the match,” said the 16th seed, who is now guaranteed £50,000. “Tonight Ronnie was awesome, his safety was so good. I was making mistakes and couldn’t get any rhythm going. I managed to turn it on in the end. It’s the best win of my career, no doubt about it.
“Ronnie was really up for it, he wants that seventh world title. He will get it – he is too good not to. To beat him in such an important match is a massive confidence boost. A few years ago I thought I was rubbish, but now I believe in myself to at least play well. To play in front of the crowd is just so good. But you need to win tournaments in order to be on the TV tables more often.
“I was calm in the last frame, I had it in my mind that it wasn’t the last frame and we were going to play all night. I wanted to play all night, it was just so good! It only hit me when I potted the last red that we were in a decider. Ronnie said to me at the end that I had played well and deserved it. The semi-final from last year didn’t cross my mind at all – that’s gone.
“I just want to go out and play well and see what happens, if I lose it’s not the end of the world.”
O’Sullivan said: “I want to wish Anthony good luck, no one could begrudge him winning the tournament. I am pleased I made a game of it and stayed true to the task. I had a good mindset having been working with (psychiatrist) Steve Peters for the past few days. For the next five or ten years if I want to play and enjoy it then I will need to keep working with him because it’s a tough sport when things are not going your way.
“There’s no reason why I can’t win it again, but I have long gone past playing snooker for a living. I am a bit like Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus in golf, they are still a presence because of what they have achieved.
“If I said goodbye to the Crucible and to playing I would be saying goodbye to a lot of good things that are happening in snooker for me, and I don’t really want to do that. It’s better for me to play because my sponsors get excited when I get my cue out of the case.”
Ronnie was, as always, extremely gracious in defeat, and the above quotes are a very positive message regarding his future in snooker.
Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted that Anthony McGill was the deserving winner and said that the snooker gods “have done the right thing” after he saw his bid to match Stephen Hendry’s record of seven Crucible wins made to wait at least another 12 months on Friday night.
McGill devastatingly lost 17-16 to Kyren Wilson in the semi-finals of this season-ending tournament last year and is bidding to better that performance after his first ever career victory over 45-year-old O’Sullivan.
But there was no soreness from the six-time world champion post-match as he gave Scotland’s McGill credit for an excellent victory in Sheffield.
O’Sullivan, who has lost all of his five ranking finals since winning the World Championship last year, told BBC Sport: “That match he lost in the semi-finals last year, he didn’t lose it because he bottled it, he was just unlucky. He deserved his victory. I think any snooker player watching that last year can’t begrudge Anthony McGill a world title after that. It’s hard to lift yourself up after something like that but I thought he handled himself fantastically well last year. Anybody else I’d probably have really been a bit sore but I think the snooker gods have done the right thing. I’ll lick my wounds and come back again. It’s just one of them things.”
Speaking about his warm exchange of words with McGill after his defeat was confirmed, O’Sullivan added: “You have to [be respectful]. What can you do? It’s over. The reality is I’m out of the tournament and he’s still in.””You’ve got to wish the man the best of luck. It’d be nice to see him go on and have a good run.You could say it’s one that got away but there was six [World Championships] that didn’t get away. I’ve won 20 majors or whatever it is and I’ve got kind of every record in the book apart from the most world titles. If I can keep the mindset I’ve had these last few days… I just want to enjoy my snooker. I haven’t really been enjoying it. I feel like I’ve been playing pretty poor, I find it hard to enjoy it if I don’t play well. I rely on playing well and cueing well to enjoy it. I was able to have a good few days with Steve Peters and I got my head around it a little bit and could accept that it is what it is, you can’t pot everything.
“I was able to to move on and stay in a good place throughout that match. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
As a Ronnie fan, I’m disappointed of course that he couldn’t win this one in the end, but I’m also happy about the way he fought back, and the class he showed in defeat.
Now, I would love to see Anthony lift the trophy come Sunday. I’m not the kind who hates whoever beats my favourite player and I prefer to think that he’s been beaten by the best rather by a nobody on a lucky day. The latter certainly doesnot apply to Anthony, who played a great match, and would probably have faced Ronnie in the final last year if Kyren Wilson had not got that crucial fluke. It’s also worth remembering that it was Anthony, at this same stage, who beat Mark Selby, the defending champion, in 2015. The score back then was 13-9. He has the game, the temperament and the credentials to become a World Champion.
As a snooker fan, this was a great, great match and a fantastic advert for the sport we love.
Ronnie O’Sullivan enjoying snooker again despite shock Anthony McGill World Championship defeat
Ronnie O’Sullivan may have been beaten 13-12 by Anthony McGill in the second round of the World Snooker Championship on Friday night, but he is happy with how he handled the game mentally and says he is enjoying playing the sport again.
“At 10-6 it’s still doable, I had to chip away at it and I thought my mindset was great,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport. ‘I was really happy with that because that’s let me down in the last couple of years. I haven’t really been enjoying my snooker, going through the motions, not playing great and not enjoying it if I wasn’t playing great.
‘Tonight, even though I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, I was able to mentally handle and just concentrate on the game, try and compete and try and win a game of snooker.
“They’re all strong, there’s no one on the circuit who isn’t strong. Sometimes we don’t manage it as well as other times and I’m probably the world’s worst at that, it’s only because I know I love the game that I keep coming back.
‘Anyone who watches snooker will know that if you play golf and you’re not very good at it you go and play 17 rubbish holes and you hit a couple of good ones down the last and you love the game again.
‘That’s just what’s snooker is like, that’s what kept me going because every now and again I feel great. But a lot of the time it’s not and I struggle with that.
‘I’ve worked hard with Steve Peters over the last couple of days and the best thing that’s come out of it is hopefully I can enjoy my snooker now, I’ve found a way to enjoy it because that’s all that matters to me.
‘Winning and losing, at this stage of my career, yeah it’s disappointing but for me, I’ve got a good life playing snooker.’
‘I love the fans, I love putting on a good performance for them and that’s why I get so down on myself when I don’t,’ said Ronnie.
‘It was alright, it’s over for me now but onwards and upwards, I suppose.’