Ronnie O’Sullivan once again proved to the doubters why he is the undisputed champion of the world – at least for one more match – following an almost flawless session of snooker that sent him flying into the quarter-finals of the World Championship in Sheffield.
The ‘Rocket’ trailed Joe Perry for their entire contest, ending both of the opening two sessions two frames behind.
Perry was able to hold his nerves well throughout the majority of the contest and really did nothing majorly wrong this morning but was powerless as O’Sullivan’s confidence and stature around the baize began to grow.
The two-time defending champion seemed to never be able get back on level terms despite consistently pulling to within one frame of his gallant challenger.
A key moment came in the 20th frame when O’Sullivan missed a routine red to the corner when seemingly in prime position to draw at 10-10 at the last mid-session interval.
However, despite going 11-9 down the 38 year-old didn’t let that miss affect him and refused to acknowledge that this may be the end of his reign at the Crucible.
Upon the resumption after their break, O’Sullivan neared his imperious best as he rattled off breaks of 53, 52, 124 and 113 to eventually prevail in a thoroughly dramatic affair.
Perry will feel aggrieved not to have crossed the winning line but, in truth, there was very little he could have done about Ronnie’s late onslaught.
The former semi-finalist will maybe rue missed opportunities at the end of the second session when he could have led 10-6 overnight, and also in the 22nd frame today when he went in-off after potting the blue on what looked like a frame winning contribution.
Yet, as Dominic Dale said on Twitter afterwards, it will take a gigantic effort for someone to put as much pressure on O’Sullivan as Perry managed to do.
While many of his fans feared that the end was nigh on an attempt at a hat-trick of successive holy grail successes, now Ronnie O’Sullivan can look forward with renewed ambition having emerged from arguably his stiffest challenge at the Crucible in many years.