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O’Sullivan the Superlative

One begins to run out of words to describe Ronnie O’Sullivan – so much so that his name ought be in the dictionary as a superlative in its own right.

The five-time world champion wrapped up a convincing Welsh Open final display with a record 12th 147 break, eclipsing his old rival and now retired Stephen Hendry.

O’Sullivan’s opponent in Sunday’s final was Ding Junhui, a player bidding to equal another one of Hendry’s long-standing records in capturing five ranking event titles in a single season.

Ding has a few more tournaments left this campaign to achieve that feat but the 26 year-old was out of his depth against one of the sport’s greatest ever.

Many had speculated that Ding would be able to handle the pressure of playing someone of the stature of O’Sullivan in a major final with a greater degree of confidence than in the past. Many were wrong.

Ding by no means embarrassed himself – indeed, he courageously compiled consecutive century breaks when he was 7-1 behind – but he evidently did wilt under the extreme pressure of who he was facing.

O’Sullivan actually didn’t dominate the opening session as the scoreline would suggest.

China’s Ding had an array of opportunities to make the contest a closer affair but could not maintain the composure that has served him so well earlier this year.

That, undoubtedly, was in large part down to who he was challenging.

While his opponent looked edgy, O’Sullivan was the epitome of calm, as the ‘Rocket’ breezed his way to a commanding lead, just as he orchestrated a similar advantage over Mark Selby in the final of the Masters in January.

And then, the perfection of the 12th and what would materialise as the final frame of the encounter in Newport.

Such is O’Sullivan’s skill around the table that the maximum break looked effortless, and for him perhaps it was, but he is no mere snooker mortal.

Messages of amazement and awe flooded social media timelines, from fans, media and players alike, with world no.1 Neil Robertson suggesting that the 38 year-old is Britain’s most talented ever sportsman.

It would be a difficult argument to win, but a debate in which O’Sullivan would definitely feature in.

I could go on and on about how great he is – his talent, his charisma, his confidence, his enigma, his genius.

But what’s the point when the simple fact will do just fine.

He’s Ronnie O’Sullivan.



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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