Ronnie O’Sullivan Into Crucible Final As He Closes On Record-Equalling Seventh Title

The Rocket will take on Judd Trump after a comfortable 17-11 win over old rival John Higgins
08:05, 01 May 2022

Ronnie O’Sullivan will take on Judd Trump in the Betfred World Championship final with the Rocket homing in on a record-equalling seventh title at the Crucible Theatre. 

And O’Sullivan, 46, believes that the two most attacking players in the game will put on a spectacular show for the sell-out crowd and millions of TV viewers over two days in Sheffield. 

With already six world titles to his name, world No1 O'Sullivan is now just one win away – albeit over the best of 35 frames – from drawing level with Scot Stephen Hendry by claiming a seventh success on the biggest stage. 

And he secured his place in the showpiece with a comfortable 17-11 win over old rival John Higgins, who lost a couple of key frames at big moments of the match when poised to get closer to O’Sullivan, and never really recovered. 

Trump, the 2019 champion, admitted it would be a “dream” to play his childhood idol for a first time in a world final, with £500,000 on offer for the winner.  

O’Sullivan said: “Judd has seen me growing up watching me play, and I know what it was like to grow up watching Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. You idolise these people and never think you will get to play them in the biggest matches, and then you do. It goes in cycles and stages. Judd will get it with the younger players like Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao. 

“We both have a lot of snooker under our belts in the last 15 days, and it should be a great final if we both bring our good game and play well. If we both play to even 75 per cent of our best it will be a fantastic match. That’s what I want, what he wants and what the fans want. 

“We will go out there, have some fun and try and put on a show. The record of seven is not why I am playing, but let’s see what happens.  

“There was a bit of relief to get through to the final, though I try not to get too excited. I always have butterflies and nerves, and this tournament is really tough – the toughest of the season over the 17 days. 

“In the match against John I knew at 3-0 down I had to do something and get things going or change things in my game, and I was able to get my tempo up.” 

Having eclipsed almost all of the 53-year-old Hendry’s other records including those for ranking titles, the big three ‘major’ tournaments, century breaks and maximum 147s, if O’Sullivan is left lifting the trophy on Monday night he will be almost universally acclaimed as the greatest player of all time – with many observers feeling that title is already his anyway. 

O’Sullivan has been followed around by a film crew this season, as the subject of a forthcoming documentary about his life. There is no doubt that winning the title this year would provide a fairy-tale ending those behind the project dared not dream about – but O’Sullivan was trying to downplay the significance of the perfect end to the film before the credits roll. 

He added: “It didn’t really matter if I won this or got to the world final or lost in the first round. They have been with me all season, it is not about me winning the World Championships. It is more about them thinking there was a story to tell, and that I was worth following about. 

“They have captured it all, but it isn’t like me going for my first gold medal or first world title, it’s more a celebration of what I have done over the years, and show the world up close someone who has been doing something for 30 years and been quite successful at it.” 

With Mark Williams having been edged out, O'Sullivan, at 46, also now becomes that player to be the oldest Crucible finalist for 40 years - since Ray Reardon was beaten by Alex Higgins in 1982. 

Higgins was downcast at the end – feeling his own level of performance had not matched the occasion, the first time the pair had met in the one-table set-up in the arena for more than 20 years. 

He said: “I was poor for most of the tournament, and against someone like Ronnie just scrapping isn’t good enough. He was lethal and I don’t actually remember him missing – he was a different animal out there. But I am just very disappointed in my own level of performance.”

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