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World Champ Preview

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Barry Hawkins will contest the final of the 2013 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield.

ronnie (1)

Ronnie O’Sullivan

O’Sullivan, the defending champion, comfortably saw off challenger Judd Trump 17-11 while Hawkins came from behind to overcome Ricky Walden 17-14 in the two semi-finals.

For the ‘Rocket’, it was a case of completing what was almost an inevitable task.

The 37 year-old had opened up a four frame cushion over the young pretender prior to the final session but was always in control of the contest as Trump, despite his pre-match aggressive talk, at times looked completely out of his depth.

Hawkins, meanwhile, appeared to be overwhelmed by the occasion as mistake after mistake saw him go 12-8 down.

However, the Kent cueist reeled off eight frames in a row as Walden began to feel the pressure to go 16-12 ahead and within one of a landmark victory.

Walden briefly began a comeback and landed two more frames before Hawkins finally got his chance to seal victory and took it to book his maiden World Championship final appearance.

The brace of results mean that the final will be between one of the greatest ever and somebody who has absolutely no idea what he is in for.

To confound that, O’Sullivan is so odds on that he is the 1/8 betting favourite at Ladbrokes for this championship.

A lot of words have been used to describe Ronnie O’Sullivan – enigma, genius, talented – but predictable is not one of them.

It would be a huge surprise if the four-time champion was not to add to his tally but absolutely anything can happen when he is at the table.

For Hawkins, it’s a case of ‘I’ve made it this far, let’s enjoy the show and see what happens’ kind of attitude.

If the 34 year-old goes in automatically feeling the pressure under the weight of who his opponent is then there’s going to be only one result – and it’s going to be a heavy one.

Hawkins is the type of player who, because he is so steady, if he can stay close near the beginning and nick a couple of close frames the confidence could rise hastily.

Similarly, Ronnie is susceptible to collapsing if things aren’t going exactly the way his mind plans.

Yet, the manner in which the Chigwell cueist has been performing on centre stage the last fortnight it would be fairly surprising if he did not complete the job.

And to do so would undoubtedly go down as one of the most incredible achievements in this fine sport.

To win back-to-back tournaments is one thing. To win back-to-back World Championships is just another.

But to claim two in succession having barely played a competitive shot is quite another – and reflective of how dominant O’Sullivan is capable of being.

Shocks have occurred at this stage before of course. Joe Johnson came from out of the blue to beat Steve Davis in 1986 while qualifier Shaun Murphy impressed in pipping Matthew Stevens to the title 19 years later.

But unless Ronnie pulls a Ronnie, it’s hard to see how Hawkins can become one of the most unlikeliest world champions ever.



Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.

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