The semi-finals concluded yesterday and we have got Ronnie v Judd Trump in the final.
Ronnie was 10-6 up on John Higgins at the start of the day and ended up winning the match 17-11. He was 15-9 up after the morning session and finished the match before the MSI in the evening. Although this looks comfortable on paper, it was in fact an incredibly tense match. Ronnie however finished it with a flourish: a brilliant 134.
You can watch it here:
Here are the reports by WST:
O’Sullivan Two Frames Away From Final
Ronnie O’Sullivan extended his lead over John Higgins to 15-9 going into the last session of their Betfred World Championship semi-final.
The duo return at 7pm on Saturday evening for the concluding chapter of this absorbing battle, but Higgins needs the fight back of a lifetime as he requires eight of the last nine frames.
If O’Sullivan can take the two he needs, he’ll be through to an eighth Crucible final, which would leave him just one short of Stephen Hendry’s record of nine. World number one O’Sullivan has won six of his seven finals – if he lifts the trophy on Monday night he will match Hendry’s coveted record of seven crowns, and also become the oldest ever World Champion at the age of 46.
Higgins had spells where he looked set to work his way back into the tie, but a handful of key errors at crucial moments, coupled with O’Sullivan’s magnificent break-building, allowed the Englishman to develop what looks like an unassailable advantage.
Four-time champion Higgins trailed 10-6 overnight and took a scrappy opening frame today to close the gap. He had first chance in frame 18 but failed to land on a red when he split the pack on 32 and had to play safe. After a tactical exchange, O’Sullivan made a fantastic 82 clearance to go 11-7 ahead.
The 19th came down to the last red and Higgins trapped his opponent in a tough snooker, and took the chance that followed to draw within three again. O’Sullivan responded with a break 101, then Higgins replied with a 103 for 12-9. The Scot had an early chance in frame 22 but missed a short-range red to a centre pocket, and was punished as O’Sullivan made a 121.
Higgins banged his cue on the floor in frustration when he missed a red early in frame 23. He later had a clear scoring opportunity but was unlucky to run out of position when he went into a cluster of reds, trailing 50-26. O’Sullivan again took advantage with a run of 54, and he finished the session in style with a 134 total clearance, his 12th century of the tournament.
John Higgins very rarely shows as much frustration as he did yesterday: for him to bang his cue it must have been overwhelming. That nearly never happens, so much so that Neal Fould, in commentary, branded it a “collector’s item”.
Those are the scores for that session:
‘Lethal’ O’Sullivan Into Eighth World Final
Ronnie O’Sullivan moved a step closer to winning a milestone seventh Betfred World Championship title with a 17-11 victory over John Higgins, setting up what could be one of the great Crucible finals against Judd Trump.
Higgins described his opponent as “lethal” as O’Sullivan treated the Sheffield crowd to a potting masterclass, making five centuries and 12 more breaks over 50 as he recovered an early 3-0 deficit to take 17 of the last 25 frames.
The Rocket is into his eighth Crucible final, having won the title in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2020; his only final defeat was against Mark Selby in 2014. He will face Trump over a possible 35 frames on Sunday and Monday for the trophy and £500,000 top prize. The champion will also finish the season as world number one.
Victory would see O’Sullivan equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles which has stood since 1999, and raise his marvellous career to yet another high. O’Sullivan is set to play in his 61st ranking final and is aiming for his 39th ranking title, which would move him further clear of Hendry’s previous record of 36. He is on course for a 21st Triple Crown success as he has already won the Masters and UK Championship seven times apiece.
The 46-year-old will be the oldest Crucible finalist since 1982 when a 49-year-old Ray Reardon lost to Alex Higgins. If Chigwell’s O’Sullivan wins the title he will be the oldest ever World Champion. He and Trump – the sport’s two greatest entertainers – have previously met in the ten finals, including the UK Championship and the Masters – but this will be their first Crucible final.
Higgins has had the edge over O’Sullivan in their matches this season, winning their last three meetings. But after a bright start this time, he was unable to score heavily enough to keep pace – the Scot failed to make a break over 60 until the 21st frame. The 46-year-old misses out on the chance to play for a fifth world title and, at the end of a season where he has shown a high level of consistency, he has added only the Championship League to his trophy collection.
Trailing 15-9, Higgins won the opening frame of the last session with a break of 69. He had a scoring chance in the next but ran out of position on 9, and O’Sullivan capitalised with 67 to go six up with seven to play.
Frame 27 came down to a safety battle on the last red, and Higgins got the better of the tactical exchange to keep his hopes alive. But O’Sullivan wrapped up the contest in the 28th with a break of 83.
“This tournament is the real deal, it’s great to do well in it,” said O’Sullivan, making his 30th appearance at the Crucible. “I’m hitting the ball ok in patches. There are spells when I feel really good, and others when it’s harder. That’s just the nature of snooker and getting older. I am calling on my experience to try to become a tidier player. I am not as fearless as I used to be so I have to make up for that in other areas.
“Judd is more attacking and aggressive than me, he has got more cue power so he can play shots that I can’t. We both go for our shots and try to win frames in one visit. Sometimes we have to pull shots out of the bag to keep the break going while other players might bail out and play safe. If we both play to 80 percent of our game it will be amazing. There’s two days to go so I’m going to enjoy it and see what’s left in the tank.
“I am not focussed on titles, what I have won and haven’t won. It’s more about the experience and enjoying it. When I won this title in 2020 it didn’t change my life. If I win it again I’m not sure I will feel overly elated. But it would still be nice to have.”
Higgins said: “I’m disappointed by the way I played. I was so up for the game, playing the great man over three days. It was a great occasion and a great crowd, but Ronnie was far too good for me. He was lethal. I don’t think he missed one ball when he was in among them, he might have run out of position a few times, but other than that he was unbelievable.
“In most people’s eyes he is the greatest ever. If he wins it and equals Stephen’s seven titles, it might put to bed any argument about that.
“I’ll come back. But there’s only so much your mental state can take when you play as badly as that. It’s soul destroying when you’re out there. But I’ll keep on giving it a go.”
Here are the scores for that session:
John Higgins had won most of their matches in recent years, and had previously beaten Ronnie three times out of 5 at The Cucible. The record is now 3 wins each. Remarkably, they had not played each other in the World Championship since 2011, and the last time they had played over 4 sessions was in 2001 when Ronnie won his first World title.
Ronnie might downplay his hunger and and desire to win, but his attitude since the first ball in this championship is telling another story. He wants this one. Whether he can get it, we shall see. Judd Trump has been struggling for most of the season but has been building himself into form over the last two weeks. He won’t make it easy for Ronnie and Ronnie knows it. But for now, I’m over the moon that Ronnie overcame his “Higgins mental block” and beat him so soundly in such an important match.
In the afternoon Judd Trump overcame Mark Williams in one of the most extraordinary match I ever watched … and I have been watching about everything for the last 18 years.
Trump Beats Williams In Epic Semi-Final
Judd Trump reached the final of the Betfred World Championship for the third time, scoring a 17-16 victory over Mark Williams who narrowly failed to pull of one of the Crucible’s greatest comebacks.
Having trailed 9-2 and 12-5, Williams recovered to lead 16-15 and was on the verge of becoming the first player to win from seven frames behind in a Sheffield semi-final. But Trump regrouped in time to take the last two frames and set up a final against Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins on Sunday and Monday.
A tremendous match joins a list of dramatic recent semi-finals to go to a deciding frame, alongside O’Sullivan’s win over Mark Selby and Kyren Wilson’s defeat of Anthony McGill in 2020, and Higgins’ success against David Gilbert in 2019.
Trump now has the chance to win a second world title, having beaten Higgins in the 2019 final. Victory would make him the seventh player to lift the trophy more than once at the Crucible, joining Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, Williams, Higgins, O’Sullivan and Selby. If the Bristol cueman takes the £500,000 top prize he will also finish the event as world number one.
Though he has won two tournaments this season – the Cazoo Champion of Champions and Nirvana Turkish Masters – Trump has also had interludes where he has struggled for form and motivation. At the recent Cazoo Tour Championship he even hinted at taking a long break from the sport. While he arrived in Sheffield as the favourite in 2020 and 2021, this time expectations were lower. Trump has gathered momentum gradually over the fortnight, and looked close to his best during the first two sessions of the semi-final.
Welshman Williams misses out on a fifth world final and the chance to add to the crowns he won in 2000, 2003 and 2018. At 47, he would also have been the oldest Crucible finalist since Ray Reardon in 1982 – that privilege will now go to either Higgins or O’Sullivan.
Remarkably, despite failing to reach the final, Williams equalled the long-standing record for most centuries in a single Championship, set by Stephen Hendry in 2002. He made 16 tons in his four matches.
Trailing 13-11 going into the last session, Williams had made 42 in the opening frame today when he missed a tough red to a centre pocket, and Trump took advantage with an excellent 64 clearance to extend his lead. Trump had a chance to clear from 49-0 down in the next but was unlucky to snooker himself in trying to get position from black to yellow. Williams executed brilliant pots on yellow and green as he closed the gap.
A run of 59 helped give Williams frame 27, and he took the next with a superb 137 total clearance. Having led since 1-0, Trump was now level at 14-14. In frame 29, Williams trailed 48-27 when he made a safety error with four reds left, and Trump added the points he needed to regain the lead.
World number eight Williams responded with a 138 to equal Hendry’s record of 16 tons. Frame 31 lasted 33 minutes and came down to a safety battle on the blue. Williams snared his opponent in a snooker behind the black, and from the chance that followed he potted blue and pink to lead for the first time. Two early chances in frame 32 yielded only 14 points for Williams. Trump led 30-14 when he slotted in a long red and added enough points for 16-16.
Williams fluked a red early in the decider but then missed a tough blue, and Trump took control with a run of 49. The Englishman led 51-25 when he played a clever cross double on the penultimate red, then potted brown, red and black which proved enough for victory.
“I was so relieved to get over the line, it was tough,” admitted Trump, winner of 23 ranking titles. “Most of the crowd were with Mark because they want to see a fight back and that makes it hard. It’s a daunting atmosphere to play in when the crowd are against you, you are sitting in your chair a lot and it’s difficult to get your form back. I think that’s why we see so many come backs here.
“I’m looking forward to taking the night off and then looking ahead to the final. I’ve had a tough draw all the way through but it’s a dream to play against the best and challenge myself. Whether it’s John or Ronnie in the final, it will be an incredible occasion.
“I said it in every round that it is a free shot and I don’t expect anything of myself. I felt a lot better yesterday, like I did against John in 2019. I feel like I am close to being at my best.
“I was fearing the worst when Mark fluked a red in the last frame. Luckily for me he missed a couple towards the end because he barely missed for two sessions. I was trying to stay positive and still enjoying it, but I just tried to not get too down on myself.”
Williams said: “In the last frame I thought I played two really good safeties and I’m not sure if he went for the cross double – if he did then fair play because I thought I had him in trouble. It was a fantastic occasion, the crowd were unbelievable, I think I must have had at least 80 percent of the crowd on my side. I’d like to thank the crowd for the atmosphere but unfortunately, I came up short in a decider again.
“I had the momentum and put him under a lot of pressure. I was playing really well and making some good breaks, at one stage I don’t think he potted a ball for about 50 minutes. Who does that to Trump? I suppose that’s some consolation. But when it comes to that fighting edge at the end, I just haven’t got it.”
Never mind… we still love you Willo!
It was really a fantastic match, especially for the neutral. I’ll say this once again: there is nothing like the longer formats to bring up pressure and drama.
Let’s hope that the final lives up to the standard set in the semi-finals.