Superb O’Sullivan completes Hendry job
Ronnie O’Sullivan wrapped up his clinical dismantling of Stephen Hendry with a session to spare, as he won their World Championship semi-final at the Crucible 17-6.
“The Rocket”, who trailed 4-1 early in the match, took the first frame of the evening session with a superb clearance of 126 which was his 12th frame in succession, to lead 13-4.
Hendry then finally stopped the rot by winning two frames on the trot which gave the crowd fleeting hope of a comeback but O’Sullivan took the next three to ensure that he would have a day off before the final which starts on Sunday.
O’Sullivan wasn’t quite as mesmeric as he was in this morning’s session, and actually needed some luck to take the final two frames.
He had not one, but two, fluked reds in the penultimate frame, before building a break of 56 which proved enough to put him on the brink of victory.
And then he only won the final frame after Hendry left the final black over the jaws of the pocket, after missing a tough pot that would have seen him extend the game.
However, that is not to say that O’Sullivan was not utterly brilliant for spells of the evening session.
After breaks of 85 and 54 had helped Hendry get back into things, O’Sullivan stopped him dead in his tracks as classy breaks of 68 and then 123 put him back in charge before he scrapped his way to the final two frames.
O’Sullivan will now face Ali Carter or Joe Perry in the final and if he can even come close to replicating the form he showed throughout this match, then a third world championship will surely be his.
SECOND SESSION REPORT
Ronnie O’Sullivan produced one of the finest sessions of snooker in recent Crucible history to move 12-4 clear of Stephen Hendry.
O’Sullivan won all eight frames, to add to the three he won at the end of the first session on Thursday afternoon, to leave the former seven-time champion shellshocked.
The burst of frames from O’Sullivan – chasing a third world title of his own – means Hendry has a mountain to climb in the final session of their first-to-17 match.
O’Sullivan won the opening frame with a break of 93, falling short of the century when he failed to get position on the final red, to move in front for the first time in the match.
Hendry then wasted two golden chances to level in the next, allowing O’Sullivan to step up on the colours and move into a 6-4 lead.
O’Sullivan then took his sixth frame in succession to extend his lead further, again coming from behind with a break of 57 after Hendry had made an inital 35, clinching the frame when the Scot failed to get safe off a snooker.
And the domination of the second session went on as O’Sullivan pounced on a mistake from a safety to rattle off 87 to win the 12th frame and take a 8-4 lead into the mid-session interval.
But the best was yet to come after the interval, as the 32-year-old pounced on a half-chance from Hendry’s opening shot in the 13th frame to race to a 133 total-clearance, before doing the very same thing in the next frame to make a 135 total-clearance and win his ninth frame in succession.
Hendry averted the danger of breaking the record for most unanswered points with a fine long red at the start of the 15th frame, but there was no stopping O’Sullivan as he went on to make a frame-winning 85, as impressive as the two total-clearances due to the awkward position of the reds.
The Scot made a confidence-boosting break of 44 at the start of the final frame of the session before a poor safety allowed O’Sullivan in again. A few minutes and 70 points later, and the session whitewash was complete, Hendry’s first 0-8 session in 20 years at the Crucible.
O”Sullivan rallied from 4-1 down to finish the first session of his World Championship semi-final with Hendry level at 4-4.
O’Sullivan was far from his swashbuckling best during a tense and enthralling opening to the match, and missed a host of chances to build decisive breaks.
Hendry, on the other hand, hit the ground running. A first-frame break of 140 set the tone for a clinical performance reminiscent of his former glories.
The Scot showed greater patience during safety exchanges and simply waited on his opponent’s mistakes.
He won a drawn out second frame, before O’Sullivan’s rash attempt to escape a snooker gifted him the third, and a deserved 3-0 lead.
Hendry was not infallible, however, and a missed yellow allowed O’Sullivan to open his account in the next.
But the seven-times world champion claimed a scrappy fifth frame to regain a three-frame cushion heading into the mid-session interval.
O’Sullivan emerged brighter, and with greater focus. The three frames that followed were all disjointed tactical battles, punctuated by stunted breaks and missed opportunities, but O’Sullivan somehow scraped home to take all three.
Hendry was left to rue a missed opportunity to end the opening session with a commanding advantage. O’Sullivan was off-colour, but he kept himself in contention with a gritty performance. At some point he will surely find his form.
The match resumes on Friday at 10:00 (BST).
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Seán Fay & Alex Sharratt / Eurosport