Ronnie O’Sullivan staged an impressive comeback to win the 2012 German Masters – beating Stephen Maguire 9-7 in a thrilling final in Berlin.
The victory marks O’Sullivan’s first ranking event title – not including the minor Players Tour Championship events – since the 2009 Shanghai Masters, an unprecedented barren run of almost 29 months.
It also puts an end to the speculation that the former world number one has nothing left to offer a sport he has already given so much to.
O’Sullivan may bring up the prospects of an early retirement a little too often for some but, when he is in the right frame of mind, he can still perform to the highest level and has proven this week that he has the temperament to triumph with hard graft as well as guile.
‘The Rocket’ was on the brink of defeat in his opening round match against Andrew Higginson but won five frames on the spin to stay in the tournament and it always seemed like his name could have been written on the trophy thereafter, especially after another pair of resilient results over Matthew Stevens and Stephen Lee.
And the 36 year-old showed tremendous spirit in today’s final in front of a capacity crowd of 2,500 people in the Tempodrom.
O’Sullivan took the first frame with a cool century break of 111 before Maguire, showing all the form he has produced in the week to get to this point, rattled off an amazing three tons of his own to lead 3-1 at the mid-session interval after practically flawless snooker.
The century madness ended in the fifth frame but the standard of play never let up and the next four frames were shared to leave the match nicely poised at 5-3 to the Scotsman going into the final session.
That quickly moved onto 6-3 upon the resumption of play but it was here that the match turned and O’Sullivan began to grow in confidence, flourishing in the drama that was about to unfold amidst an enthusiastic auditorium.
Indeed, it was clear that both gladiators were fiercely up for a match that, for their own individual reasons, had the added bonus of potentially reinvigorating careers that have simultaneously stagnated in recent season.
That is ironic given the fact that the duo were widely expected to be the main protagonists in the sport’s next big rivalry after a 2004/2005 season that included a succession of engaging encounters involving one another.
Nevertheless, tonight’s clash was certainly a battle of epic proportions and once O’Sullivan pinched the twelfth frame on the pink to square proceedings at 6-6, an uncharacteristic fist pump offered all you needed to know for his drive in the final.
From here, it was looking like only one man was going to win it and the three-time world champion reeled off the next two frames as well to go within one of a famous win.
Maguire, though, who had done precious little wrong to lose those five frames in a row in the first place, dug deep and, when given the chance in the 15th frame, steeled himself with a gutsy 82 clearance to keep the match alive.
In what turned out to be a tense final frame, it looked like there would be a further twist in the tale when O’Sullivan went in-off having already reached the winning line but he eventually sank the blue and pink to the delight of his legion of fans.
Snooker doesn’t get much better than that which is fitting for a superb event that has the makings of becoming one of the biggest over the next few years.