Ronnie won a record extending 38th ranking title yesterday night when he beat Neil Robertson by 10-8 in the final. He also broke another record: it’s now 28 years and 21 weeks between his first ranking title, the 1993 UK Championship and the last, this year World Grand Prix.
Neil Robertson was by far the better player for most of the match, but he couldn’t really shake off Ronnie who showed remarkable resilience and played some tremendous safeties. Then from 7-5 down, fuelled by scones with clotted cream apparently, Ronnie found something special and dominated the last mini-session.
Here is proof of the “scones admission”. Just as well that scones and clotted cream aren’t on the WADA banned substances list then…
Here are the scores:
Here are the reports by WST:
O’Sullivan And Robertson Tied At 4-4
Robertson had leads of 2-0 and 4-2 but each time was hauled back by his opponent, and the session finished with a dramatic twist as O’Sullivan stole the last frame despite having needed two snookers on the last red. First to ten frames in the concluding session on Sunday night takes the trophy and £100,000 top prize.
O’Sullivan is playing in his 59th ranking event final, 28 years after his first at the 1993 UK Championship. He has won 37 of those, one ahead of Stephen Hendry’s previous record of 36. However the Rocket has lost his last five finals and has not lifted silverware since the 2020 Betfred World Championship, 16 months ago.
The 46-year-old from Chigwell is aiming to win this tournament for the second time having beaten Ding Junhui in the 2018 final. He will stay at number three in the world rankings whatever the result today.
Australia’s 39-year-old Robertson is hoping to become the first player to win two titles this season, having landed the BetVictor English Open last month. This is the 34th ranking final of his career and he is aiming for his 22nd title, which would draw him level with Judd Trump in joint-sixth on the all-time list. Left-hander Robertson, who won this event in 2020, will remain fourth in the world rankings, win or lose.
O’Sullivan has won 17 of their 26 previous meetings and this is their fourth clash in the final of an event in this series. In 2019, O’Sullivan beat Robertson in the final of both the Players Championship and the Tour Championship, then last season the Aussie took revenge with a 10-4 success (winning the last six frames) at the Tour Championship.
Breaks of 72 and 62 gave Robertson the first two frames today and he had chances in the third, but crucially missed a mid-range red to a baulk corner when leading 50-39, allowing O’Sullivan to clear. Frame four came down to the colours and Robertson got the better of a safety battle, but then overcut a tricky pot on the green to a centre pocket, and again his opponent punished him.
After the interval, Robertson dominated a scrappy fifth frame, then took the next with runs of 51 and 36 to lead 4-2. He had a scoring chance in frame seven but missed a short-range red along the baulk cushion on 12, and O’Sullivan’s break of 90 reduced his deficit.
Trailing 25-19 in the last of the session, Robertson converted a clever plant which set him up for a run of 47, leaving him 41 points ahead with one red remaining. But O’Sullivan showed brilliant touch and judgement by laying a series of difficult snookers. When Robertson missed the red for a second time, O’Sullivan cleared the table to square the match and set up a fascinating final session.
They resume at 7pm.
O’Sullivan Ends Title Drought
O’Sullivan had lost his previous five ranking finals and gone 16 months without a title; even his most dedicated fan must have doubted whether he could still rise to the occasion on the big moments. He proved the doubters wrong tonight with a sensational display at the tail end of a superb match.
The Rocket was never ahead until the 15th frame, but having struggled with his game all week in Coventry, his technique and confidence clicked as he rifled in pots from all angles, making a difficult sport look ridiculously easy.
O’Sullivan’s reward is a 38th ranking title, extending a record he already held, a top prize of £100,000, and perhaps most importantly, renewed belief that he can beat the very best players when it matters most. However often he repeats his mantra of the enjoyment of his time on the circuit being more important than results, this victory is sure to give him deep down satisfaction.
In capturing his first trophy since the 2020 Befred World Championship, O’Sullivan extends his record gap between first and most recent titles, having won his first 28 years ago at the 1993 UK Championship. The 46-year-old from Chigwell moves up to third place on the one-year ranking list and looks set to qualify for all three events in the Cazoo Series, as well as earning a spot in next year’s Cazoo Champion of Champions.
Robertson may rue missing his chance to build a lead in the first session when he was well on top, but from 7-5 he made very few errors. The 39-year old Australian failed to become the only player to win two titles this season having landed the BetVictor English Open last month. His career ranking title tally remains on 21 and he banks £40,000 as runner-up.
After sharing the first session 4-4, Robertson took the opening frame tonight with a break of 59. In the next, he was 27 points behind with just the colours left but missed his chance to force a respot when he rattled the yellow in the jaws of a baulk corner, allowing world number three O’Sullivan to level at 5-5.
World number four Robertson took the lead for the fourth time with a break of 128 in frame 11, then in the 12th O’Sullivan missed a red to a top corner on 49, letting his opponent in for an 88 clearance to lead 7-5.
If that felt like a momentum shift, there was a bigger one to come. After the interval, O’Sullivan blitzed through four frames in just 37 minutes with top breaks of 90, 77 and 77 and take a 9-7 advantage.
A trademark long red from Robertson set him up for a break of 78 to reduce his deficit, and he had first chance in frame 18 but made just 7 before a miscue as he attempted to pot the black. That proved his last shot as O’Sullivan sealed the title with a run of 77.
“Neil was playing the best snooker and he’s the younger guy, he’s at his peak and I’m past my peak, so he was favourite, but strange things happen in sport,” said six-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “Some of the other great players didn’t win much after the age of 30 so it’s good to just be playing at the age of 46.
“I am always working on little things in my technique. Players like me and Alex Higgins are unpredictable, we are just looking for a feeling, and sometimes when you get that feeling…bang! Everything is off and running again. I get that feeling every day from running, but it is an amazing feeling.
“The difference in the atmosphere when I’m playing well is a different energy, and it’s nice to bring that energy to the people, to a venue and to a game. Only certain sports people have that. Tiger Woods, Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi, they bring something which keeps you intrigued. I have that when I get going – I suppose that’s why people have gravitated towards me.
“I’d rather play well and lose, and be involved in a good match, than win and play awful. If I had won tonight without finding an extra gear, I would have been disappointed and felt bad for the fans. Because I got a buzz and Neil played well, it was alright. When you are stinking gaffs out, it’s not a nice feeling. Neil is a lovely guy, a great sportsman, a great ambassador for snooker and Australia.”
Robertson said: “I could have had a lead after the first session, but Ronnie battled really well to win the last frame and make it 4-4. I felt great throughout the whole final. At 7-5 I just wanted three more chances. Ronnie came out and played some superb stuff. The only thing that annoyed me was the miscue on the black at 9-8, I would have loved to force a decider. I know Ronnie lost a few finals last season, so as a fan of the game and a fan of him, it was fantastic to see him play so well tonight.”
Also interesting is this article by Hector Nunns:
Gutsy O’Sullivan Ends Losing Finals Streak And Extends Longevity Record
Ronnie O’Sullivan showed true grit on Sunday night to make more history and end a losing streak of five finals in winning a second World Grand Prix title.
The Rocket had been misfiring throughout the tournament in Coventry, but after hanging tough he finally hit top gear to run out a 10-8 winner over Australia’s Neil Robertson.
Six-time world champion O’Sullivan, 46, had not lifted a trophy since the World Championship success in 2020 and lost every showpiece last term. But he extended two records by claiming an unmatched 38th ranking title as well as pouching the £100,000 first prize against the frustrated world number four Robertson, who was the better player until the climax.
As well as the new record total, this latest triumph came 28 years and 21 days after O’Sullivan’s first ranking title win at the 1993 UK Championship, pushing back another boundary.
But this was agony for Robertson, 39, who must have thought at 7-5 up that he was heading for a second Grand Prix win in three seasons.
O’Sullivan said afterwards: “I was determined all match. Neil should have been well ahead in the afternoon but wasn’t. And I found something tonight after Neil had an unfortunate miscue. He is a great champion, a great ambassador, one of the best players ever and I enjoy competing against him.
“With Covid and everything it is great to see all the fans here tonight – it’s like 10 Downing Street, a mass spreader! I have won so much in my career, that’s not being big-headed, it’s just about enjoying life and the game and I did give it my all tonight and a win is all right.”
Robertson added: “The first session I could have had a lead but Ronnie battled really well, especially the last frame to go 4-4. But I came out again playing well tonight and from 7-5 up I knew I needed just three more chances. But Ronnie played some superb stuff after that.
“It is disappointing because I would have liked to get to a decider and a miscue hurt me, but as a snooker fan it is also good to see Ronnie back winning titles again.
“It wasn’t looking great for me to be here a couple of weeks ago after having the symptoms and being diagnosed with the tinnitus, and it was great to be contesting a final with Ronnie.”
@ronnieo147 wins the 2021 @CazooUK World Grand Prix, his first title since winning the World Championship for the sixth time last year. It’s his 38th career ranking title #CazooSeries
Robertson also had a lot to play for, and had been chasing a second World Grand Prix crown in three seasons, as well as a 22nd ranking title. And his reference to a health scare came after being forced to pull out of the previous event at the Scottish Open after being diagnosed with pulsative tinnitus.
That had left his balance and hearing affected, with an increased heartbeat ringing in both ears that left the Australian worrying for his career if he had something similar to Finland’s Robin Hull, who was forced to retire with heart problems.
O’Sullivan, for his part, had not played anywhere near his best all week or indeed for most of the season, and predicted before the final that he risked being overwhelmed if he delivered more of the same.
But, once again struggling, the Rocket showed rarely-required battling and scrapping qualities to somehow stay in the contest in the first session.
Robertson surged into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 72 and 62, only for the world number three to claw his way back level, helped by a run of 51. Once more the Australian established a two-frame advantage, but after a fluent break of 90 from O’Sullivan halved the deficit, he showed Mark Selby levels of tenacity to get to 4-4. And the Essex pro got the two snookers he needed to steal a frame Robertson thought was long gone to plant a seed of doubt in the left-hander’s mind.
The pattern continued initially in the evening, Robertson edging in front and then looking irritated and bewildered at his inability to get clear as his opponent again levelled matters. But the 39-year-old cut loose in frame 11 with a 128, the first century of the final. And he followed that up with a huge steal and break of 88 for 7-5 after O’Sullivan broke down on 49.
However, that seemed to fire up O’Sullivan, who knocked in a break of 90 and then bossed frame 14 to leave the pair locked once more at 7-7 – before making it three on the spin with a run of 77.
Another 77 from O’Sullivan put him on the brink of victory only for Robertson to keep the match alive with a break of 78. But yet another break of 77 from O’Sullivan was enough to see him through the winning line to the delight of his partisan and raucous fans in the arena.
Here are a few images shared on social media, mainly by WST
as well as some short videos
The first two show some of the safeties that allowed Ronnie to win frame 8, having needed two snookers. The last is about the trophy ceremony.
`This is the post-match interview:
The end of the first session:
And the end of the match:
Thank you Ronnie and enjoy Chritsmas!