RONNIE O’SULLIVAN enjoyed another late night thriller as he completed a final frame decider to oust Neil Robertson and make his way into the final of the 888casino Champion of Champions where he will face Stuart Bingham on Sunday.
The World Champion, who had beaten Ding Junhui 6-5 on Friday night to progress to the semi-finals, put in another outstanding performance as he outlasted Robertson in a high quality match.
He now takes on fellow Essex man Bingham in the two session best of 19 final to determine the destination of the £100,000 first prize.
“I have to congratulate Neil as he’s having a great season and another good tournament so I’m just pleased to have got through in a tight match against a high class opponent,” said O’Sullivan.
“It’s difficult as any mistake is pounced on by either opponent and that is the difference at this level. We’re all competitive and when I get into that situation I don’t want to lose and keep digging deep and that’s what match play is all about,” he added.
Robertson had taken the opening frame in front of a sold out auditorium, but an excellent clearance from O’Sullivan, when he looked like he was going to fall 2-0 behind, got the match to all square.
O’Sullivan missed a red into the corner pocket, trying to force position but got to the table again to take the lead at 2-1. It was good quality stuff and Robertson took the last frame before the interval to leave it locked at 2-2.
They shared the next two and then Robertson missed a red when in a good position at 38-17 and O’Sullivan cleared with a break of 70 to move into the lead at 4-3. That soon became 5-3 as O’Sullivan rattled in a break of 103 – the first century of the match.
The Australian wasn’t finished though as he constructed an excellent clearance of 80 to get within one frame of O’Sullivan. There was more in the next as Robertson made a total clearance of 125 to take the match to a decider.
It was the Australian’s third consecutive match to go all the way but he could only watch as he failed to make contact with a red after being tucked up behind the black, and O’Sullivan took the opportunity to clear the table with break of 119 to secure a superb win and set up a championship match against Bingham.
Added O’Sullivan, “Stuart is having another fantastic season. He’s got to the final here and although I beat him in Antwerp he could have won maybe. But it will be a tough match but I’ve given my best this week and I can only guarantee that I will give my best tomorrow and keep trying till the end.”
Robertson was quick to take the positives although he acknowledged that he was not at his best; “Ronnie played a fantastic safety shot to snooker me behind the black and left me with a really difficult escape. He knocked in a really good opening red and cleared the table. It’s so unfortunate when a deciding frame is decided that way for the losing player as you don’t get a chance at the table.
“Earlier in the match I did get some good chances and though the balls were a bit awkward I should have scored better but I couldn’t get any rhythm going. Overall the quality of the match was really good but it’s very difficult as I didn’t get any opportunities to knock in a long red.
“It’s difficult in that he’s probably the best player in the world but I love playing him and if you can’t get yourself up for playing Ronnie O’Sullivan you shouldn’t be entering a tournament like this.
“I enjoyed it though, the crowd was fantastic and although they wanted Ronnie to win, they were fare to me. When I played good snooker and they acknowledged that. Overall I played good snooker this week so it’s been brilliant ahead of the UK next week,” he added.
The 888casino Champion of Champions is a brand new event featuring winners of all major tournaments over the past 12 months. The players are grouped into four groups of four and contest semi-finals and then a final all on the same day.
The winners then move forward to the weekend where there are two semi-finals on Saturday followed by the final on Sunday 24th November. The total prize-fund is £270,000 with £100,000 going to the champion.
Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-5 Neil Robertson
4-91 (43, 48), 56-51 (56, 50), 78-5 (52), 28-67 (39), 35-70 (59), 77-6 (54), 87-38 (70, 38), 103-0 (103), 38-86 (34, 80), 0-125 (125), 123-1 (119)