O’Sullivan past Liang, into semis
Ronnie O’Sullivan wasted little time in sealing his place in the semi-finals after ending the Crucible dream
Liang Wenbo with a 13-7 victory.
O’Sullivan started the final session with a comfortable 11-5 lead having won seven frames on the trot in the second session.
Liang won two frames to keep the match alive, much to the delight of the crowd, but O’Sullivan sealed the win with a superb clearance of 79 to book his place in the last four against veteran Stephen Hendry.
Liang was immediately back in the sort of form that he displayed in the opening session as he made a swift 66 to take the frame and cut the deficit to 11-6.
The youngster then made an attacking 53 in the next, although O’Sullivan fought his way back into it. A miss on the brown handed Liang the chance to steal it, but a missed blue with the rest allowed O’Sullivan to nick the frame and move to within one of the match.
Liang made him wait with a good finish in the next after O’Sullivan had over-cut a red into the middle, but the Essex star then crossed the finishing line with a wonderful 79 after Liang had faltered on 41.
O’Sullivan lead Liang Wenbo 11-5 at the end of their second session.
The ‘Rocket’ was at his fluid best against the 21-year-old Chinese, winning the first six frames of the session with seeming ease before Liang finally got a score on the board. O’Sullivan then moved within two frames of victory by taking the final frame.
A 76 break in the opener set the tone as Liang struggled to match the Essex cueman’s rhythm, giving O’Sullivan a 5-4 lead.
Liang, so cool in the opening round yet lacking belief at times in both this match and his second-round encounter with Joe Swail, tried not to show his frustration as he watched O’Sullivan rack up a 67 run in the next.
He then came close to winning his first frame of the day despite continuing to struggle with his positioning, ultimately needing a snooker on the pink to find a way back.
However he could not manage it and O’Sullivan potted the penultimate ball long to move three frames ahead.
The pressure began to show for Liang, missing a cut to the top-right pocket by a margin. A half-century on either side of that from a flowing O’Sullivan completed a clean sweep of the frames leading up to the mid-session interval.
If the Sheffield-based youngster hoped for better after a break, he was mistaken. His rival executed a stunning total clearance of 138, walking briskly around the table and disposing of balls with nonchalance.
O’Sullivan made it six in a row as he came up just short of another ton but missed a simple red using his rest on frame 15, allowing Liang a chance to build. He missed a long red but returned to the table to finish the job.
Any thoughts of a mini-comeback were put the bed by O’Sullivan in the final frame of the morning session. He leads by six frames in the best-of-25 match.
The winner will face either seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry or Ryan Day, who play their final session later, in the semi-finals. Hendry also leads 11-5.
Liang upstaged tournament favourite O’Sullivan in the opening session of their quarter-final match as the pair finished level on 4-4.
All the pre-match talk was of O’Sullivan after his 147 on Monday, although Liang had caused something of a stir of his own with his dramatic late 13-12 win over Joe Swail.
The Chinese player rode his luck a little and will rue an optimistic attempt at a red cut into the corner that handed O’Sullivan the chance to level in the final frame, but it was an impressive performance from the youngster ranked 74th in the provisional rankings before the tournament began.
Liang quashed any fears of mental fatigue after his drama on Monday night as he raced into a 2-0 lead.
The 21-year-old won the first frame when he pounced on O’Sullivan’s over-cut red into the yellow pocket to make a swift 80, while breaks of 48 and 49 took him 2-0 without O’Sullivan potting a ball.
But O’Sullivan, installed as outright favourite for the title after his devastating finish of Mark Williams on Monday, hit back with 109 in the third before levelling at the mid-session interval with a clearance of 58 in the fourth.
The provisional world number two pounced on a foul from Liang in the fifth after the youngster found himself snookered from O’Sullivan’s original break-off shot, Ronnie going on to make a frame-clinching 71 to move in front for the first time.
O’Sullivan looked in good position to move two frames clear when he moved smoothly to 24 in the sixth, although he missed a red along the bottom cushion, much to his frustration. And Liang made him pay with a fine 104, his second century of the tournament, to level at 3-3.
Another slight mistake from a safety from O’Sullivan in the seventh frame handed Liang another chance, and again the youngster made no mistake, clinching the frame with a break of 89.
But O’Sullivan ensured the match would be level overnight with a good 70 in the last after Liang’s loose attempt had split the reds, although he was again visibly angry with himself after failing to really clinch the frame in that single visit.
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Jonathan Symcox & Alex Sharratt / Eurosport