Ronnie O’Sullivan wowed Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood as the Rocket got his bid for an eighth Masters title off to a flier on Tuesday afternoon.
The record seven-time champion closed the lid on ‘Jumpin’ Jack Lisowski’s hopes at Alexandra Palace as he won the last five frames for a 6-1 victory.
And world No3 O’Sullivan, 46, was watched by pal, snooker fan and rock legend Wood, 74 – enjoying the action from a luxury £500-a-day sofa at one end of the table.
O’Sullivan’s partisan and raucous fans made up the vast bulk of the 2,100 sell-out crowd at what is his home event - and they gained great satisfaction from ‘Cue-by Tuesday’ in north London. Snooker legend O’Sullivan ended a minor trophy drought just before Christmas by winning the World Grand Prix. Before that his previous title was a sixth Betfred World Championship success in Sheffield in the summer of 2020.
But the 30-year-old Lisowski, seeking a major breakthrough in the game and a first title after losing six ranking finals so far, will not what to be running into O’Sullivan again any time soon.
This was a fourth career meeting and after this drubbing O’Sullivan has not only won the lot, but racked up 23 frames to Jackpot’s five.
O’Sullivan, who made breaks of 86, 63, 127, 64 and 132, said: “It was good to see Ronnie, and I think he had a good day out with his wife Sally. He is in good health, which is the main thing.
“I haven’t seen a lot of people over the last two years so that was nice. The Stones have played in front of some monster crowds over the years…but that’s a team sport!
“It’s a bit different on your own out there. But there are some things that are the same, performing and giving the fans value.
“It is hard to carry 2,000 home fans. I felt I had to deliver, and if I hadn’t have done I would have felt bad not giving something.
“I was really nervous early on with such a big crowd after playing behind closed doors for so long. I forgot what a crowd was alike, let alone a room like this of mad Londoners!
“I get nervous before some matches and tournaments, it can bring out the dark side in me. It can be tough, but I am tough. At some point the snooker gods tell me to calm down and play a bit.
“I settled down and played all right. I savour ever match that I play now, I have won 20 majors, most successful player of all time.
“I’ll let Neil Robertson worry about me in the quarter-final. It’s the Ashes, let’s get it on – and bring them back to Britain!
“I have won this seven times – although I am not that happy I have lost six finals here as well! For this one loads of people want tickets and I have to delegate that.
“I don’t want to criticise Jack as he is a good guy and great lad. A steely determination is part of it in snooker, and you can need to have it all.
“Look at Graeme Dott, he hasn’t got half the talent that Jack has yet he has been to three world finals.”
Lisowski said: “Ronnie played really well. I had a chance in the third frame..and basically that was it, there wasn’t a way back.
“I think Ronnie was affected by the atmosphere early on, he was 2-1 up but hadn’t played great, and then after that he moved up a few gears.”
Lisowski passed up chances in the first frame, letting O’Sullivan pinch it – before offering a glimpse of his huge and unquestioned talent with a run of 104 to level at 1-1.
Frame three looked a turning point when the Rocket swooped with a break of 86 and then made it 3-1 at the interval with a 63.
The flow and rhythm survived the 20-minute break and further breaks of 127 and 64 put O’Sullivan on the brink before closing out the match with a magnificent 125.
Meanwhile Steve Davis reflected on the 40th anniversary yesterday of him making the first ever televised 147 maximum break at the Lada Classic in Oldham.
Davis, now 64, said: “Was I the Roger Bannister of snooker for that? It is hard to believe it is 40 years ago today. I even got a Lada Car for that one, which must have been worth at least £249.
“I got a kick on the brown and got nowhere near the blue – I am blaming the old-style chalk for that. The irony is that it was made against John Spencer.
“And John had made a 147 and I think the ITV crew were on a tea break or something and there were other issues about whether it could be ratified.”
Since that milestone first one on television there have been a total of 172 made in the sport.