Ronnie O’Sullivan was in ominous looking form as he rocketed into the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions on Wednesday.
The defending champion, victorious in the inaugural staging of the tournament in Coventry 12 months ago, was given a tough test by the player he beat in last year’s final Stuart Bingham.
‘Ballrun’, the Shanghai Masters champion, led 2-1 with breaks of 107 and 62 but was powerless to stop an in-form O’Sullivan as the five-time world champion reeled off three quick frames with ruthless runs of 83, 115 and 103.
His relentless dominance on the table was only to get worse for the 38 year-old’s quarter-final challenger, if one wants to call him that, Marco Fu.
O’Sullivan fired in breaks of 75, 71, 62, 61 and 60 en route to a 6-0 hammering of the Hong Kong native, who had earlier in the day seen off 2005 world champion Shaun Murphy.
O’Sullivan has admitted that he likes the Champion of Champions, an event which suits him not only because it features the world’s best players who he can test he level against, but also as it offers a sizable winner’s cheque upon its conclusion.
Furthermore, the five-time Crucible champion has predominantly preferred performing on home soil so this event, followed by the upcoming majors the UK Championship and the Masters, should suit his needs down to the ground.
O’Sullivan’s victory sets up a mouth-watering encounter against China’s Ding Junhui in the last four on Saturday.
Ding doesn’t have the best of head-to-heads against O’Sullivan – not many do – and has been on the receiving end of a few demoralising defeats down through the years.
The 27 year-old did push O’Sullivan all the way to a decider in last year’s Champion of Champions at the last eight stage but subsequently received a lesson in the final of the Welsh Open, a clash that ended 9-3 and with his illustrious opponent compiling a maximum.
The fourth and final bracket will not be played on Thursday, rather on Friday, because of ITV4’s coverage of the Europa League football today.
However, a quick word on that as it includes the returning Ali Carter to our television screens.
Carter may have only qualified for this event via his world ranking position but nobody can question whether or not the ‘Captain’ has been a champion off the table in the last couple of years following his two battles with cancer.
The Englishman, whose first competition was actually in Hong Kong’s General Cup a few weeks ago, which he amazingly won, takes on Neil Robertson and is sure to get a great reception from the crowd.
Meanwhile, the final first round tie is an intriguing one as well, with Ricky Walden and Mark Allen facing each other in a repeat of the International Championship final only days ago – which the former prevailed in 10-7.