Ronnie won his third match in a row in a deciding frame as he beat Li Hang by 5-4 yesterday afternoon.
Here are the scores:
Rocket Edges Out Li
Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed the final frame to beat Li Hang 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the BetVictor Scottish Open at the Venue Cymru.
It’s 37-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan’s third decider of the week, having also beaten Liang Wenbo and Jamie Jones by 4-3 scorelines.
The Rocket is seeking his first piece of silverware since winning the 2020 World Championship. He appeared in five finals last season, but lost on each occasion. Next up O’Sullivan faces either John Higgins or David Gilbert for a place in this week’s final
O’Sullivan and Li met in the semi-finals of last year’s Scottish Open. On that occasion six-time Crucible king O’Sullivan was also the victor, by a 6-4 scoreline.
This afternoon’s loss for China’s Li ends his hopes of qualifying for next week’s World Grand Prix and ensures Martin Gould a place in the top 32 of the one-year list and a spot in the Coventry event.
There was never more than a single frame between the pair this afternoon and the shared the opening four to head into the mid-session locked level at 2-2.
O’Sullivan took to the front with a break of 83 when play resumed, but Li responded with 58 to take the sixth and restore parity at 3-3. O’Sullivan moved a frame from the win, before Li held his nerve to force a decider. It was 46-year-old O’Sullivan who won it to secure his place in the semis.
Afterwards O’Sullivan was full of praise for the Chinese contingent of players following Zhao Xintong’s stunning win at last week’s UK Championship.
“It is a bit like the Kenyan runners. There is a group of them, they all support and motivate each other,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s brilliant. China is a massive market. Big for the game and big for the sport. If you can position yourself in a good place for that market it is brilliant.
“I am trying to forget what has gone on before and refocus on the next shot in hand. I think I’ve done better this tournament and last tournament with that. I just need to find a bit of a game now. If I can find a game then who knows.
“I’m just going to get on the practice table tonight, have a little search around and see what is out there. Hopefully I’ll play alright tomorrow. If I do then I will enjoy the occasion. It is a feeling with me. I’m not a mechanical player. If I get a feeling then it is good. I tinker about with things. It can be millimetres. Just a change of a grip or body position. Once you get it right you are off and running.”
There is also a report by Eurosport, with more details about how the match unfolded:
SCOTTISH OPEN SNOOKER 2021 – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN DIGS DEEP TO SEE OFF LI HANG AND REACH SEMI-FINALS IN LLANDUDNO
Ronnie O’Sullivan won a final-frame decider for the third match in a row to beat Li Hang 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Scottish Open.
The Rocket was not at his best once again, but he had the resolve and will to win to get over the line. O’Sullivan has spoken about tinkering with his game, and to do it on the fly in Llandudno is no mean feat.
He will face a bigger test against John Higgins on Saturday, but he is showing the fighting spirit that may prove the difference in Wales.
Li took the first frame after being given a couple of opportunities by O’Sullivan. He took the big chance off the back of an excellent red into the yellow pocket which he flicked into the bag off the brown. The break of 51 was enough to secure the opener.
Aside from his crushing win over Michael Georgiou, O’Sullivan has made slovenly starts to his matches in Llandudno this week. It was a similar story against Li, as the mistakes in the first were followed by some sloppy play in the second.
Li did not take his chances in the second. O’Sullivan got his hand on the table to roll in a mid-range red and it set up a frame-winning contribution.
As in the first two frames, Li was in first in the third. He’s been described by Neil Robertson as the finest player in the world on the outside tables. He raced to a half-century break to suggest the main table is next to be conquered, but he missed a routine red with the frame at his mercy and O’Sullivan stepped in with the ruthlessness of an assassin to move ahead in the match.
The tables are the same size, they all have six pockets and are covered in green baize. But there’s much to be said for main-table experience.
The slip up in the third frame could easily have rocked Li, but he hit back with an excellent 116 – which was crafted by a spanking three-ball plant – to draw level.
O’Sullivan cut a frustrated figure at the start of the fifth when missing a red, albeit he stopped short of punching the table as he did the previous day. The frustration did not last long, as Li sloppily left the red O’Sullivan missed when playing safe – and he dished up a glorious 83 to move back ahead.
Two-time winner of the event, O’Sullivan got in again in the sixth and looked primed to make a telling contribution, but he ran out of position from red to black. Clearly seething, he threw his arm at a difficult blue into the yellow pocket and it failed to drop – allowing Li in for a break of 53 to level the match.
Both players had chances in the seventh, and O’Sullivan looked in a spot of bother when Li had him welded to the black cushion. He sized up the situation, and pulled off a brilliant double into the right middle. The table was not easy, but he picked it open with a break of 80 to move back in front at 4-3.
O’Sullivan could not shake off Li, who showed excellent nerve to force a deciding frame.
It was the third match in a row in which O’Sullivan was taken to a deciding frame. A break of 90 was good enough to beat Liang Wenbo, and 66 saw off Jamie Jones. On this occasion, it was a break of 56 to get over the line.
Li had a chance to beat O’Sullivan in the semi-finals last year, but on this occasion he did not get an opportunity in the decider – as the Rocket booked his place in an 85th ranking semi-final.
And the post-match interview:
Ronnie may not be as good as he once was but yesterday he showed tremendous fighting spirit. Whether that will be enough to beat John Higgins today, I’m not sure.
That said the conditions were terrible if what John Higgins said after his match is to be believed.
“The table was difficult to play on,” Higgins told Eurosport. “We have been saying it for so long, and I know there have been a lot of talking points this week, but the talking point is the tables need to be recovered during the event.
“It is terrible. We have had so much traffic on these tables, and then we just recover for the semi-finals and final: three matches.
“Try and count up the matches this week, it is criminal. It needs to be recovered during the event.
The tables will be recovered ahead of the semi-finals.