Champion moment as Ronnie O’Sullivan cruises to sixth World Championship victory
From 10-8, O’Sullivan – the oldest winner since Ray Reardon in 1978 – reeled off eight successive frames in stunning fashion.
Seven of those came in an absorbing afternoon session, meaning those fans lucky enough to have a ticket for last night’s final session were destined for a shortened evening with O’Sullivan needing just more frame to win, leading 17-8 in the best-of-35 final.
A quickfire 96 put Wilson out of his misery, and completed a memorable 17 days for O’Sullivan, whose £500,000 winnings sees him rise to No 2 in the world rankings behind Judd Trump.
The Essex cueman now sits just one shy of Stephen Hendry’s record haul of seven world titles and few would bet against O’Sullivan returning to Sheffield in eight months’ time and matching the Scot’s feat.
But while Hendry won his titles in the Nineties, as Steve Davis secured his six crowns in the Eighties, O’Sullivan has proven his longevity by winning his six trophies – his previous five came in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013 – over three decades.
And last night’s World Championship success now means O’Sullivan has won more ranking titles, with 37, than anyone in the game’s rich history.
Returning overnight trailing 10-7, Wilson opened up with an impressive 73 to cut the deficit to just two frames.
Unfortunately for the Kettering potter, that was as good as it got as O’Sullivan stepped up to reel off the next seven frames.
It was not vintage O’Sullivan – there was not one single century break yesterday – but he simply outclassed Wilson, who was making his first appearance in a Crucible final.
O’Sullivan had spent the previous 16 days in Sheffield complaining he was struggling with his cue action.
Likening it to a golfer without a reliable swing, the 44-year-old may have been using a smidgeon of mind games, but his short-game was too much for Wilson. Like the legendary golfer Seve Ballesteros, who made up for some wayward drives down the fairway by chipping and putting his way around the golf course, O’Sullivan was lethal in and around the pack of reds.
Breaks in successive frames of 53, 61, 57, 60, 71, 72 saw O’Sullivan cruise towards the finish line, meaning the only surprise was he stalled on 32 in the final frame of the afternoon session.
He missed the black, frame ball, to allow Wilson a glimmer of hope, only for the 28-year-old to fail to drop the black in the same pocket and leave O’Sullivan 17-8 ahead going into the evening session. If Wilson – who fluked the winner in his semi-final – thought the snooker Gods were against him against O’Sullivan, he will point to frame 19.
O’Sullivan was wobbling at 10-8, but a fluked red saw him conjure up a 53 break. Wilson had the chance to seize the frame, but missed the pink into the centre pocket.
From there, it was just one-way traffic.
O’Sullivan looked on for a maximum in the next frame, but failed to get on a red after opening the pack and stalled on 48.
Wilson could not take his chances, and O’Sullivan – whose only defeat in a Crucible final came back in 2014 to Mark Selby – returned to empty the table with a 61 clearance.
There were no century knockout punches, but a series of heavy body blows – with five more successive 50-plus breaks – which sapped the life out of Wilson.
It was a one-sided final, in contrast to both of Friday’s semi-finals which went down to a final frame decider.
Then O’Sullivan – who had trailed by five frames to Mark Williams in the quarter-finals –had to win the final three frames to beat Selby 17-16.
But there was never any chance of a comeback for Wilson – who edged out Anthony McGill 17-16 on Friday to reach his maiden Crucible final – as he resumed 17-8 on Sunday evening.
All Wilson could do was watch as O’Sullivan’s 96 break secured victory, to confirm his status as the greatest snooker player to ever pick up a cue.
As for Wilson, he pockets £200,000, the biggest pay day of his career, and moves up to sixth in the world rankings.
Wilson said: “I’m not going to beat myself up too much. It was a dream come true to play Ronnie in the final.
“I really struggled in the first session yesterday. We both had a bit of a hangover from the semi-finals. I’m a fighter. I tried to just relax, let the shackles off and go for it.”
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