Ronnie O’Sullivan romped to victory in the Shanghai Masters on Saturday, dismantling the challenge of Judd Trump in the final with a 10-3 drubbing of his fellow Englishman in China.
It had been expected that a tight encounter would materialise, especially given their even head-to-head record and Trump’s superior showing from their prior finals with one another.
However, the “Rocket” raced into an early lead and never looked like relinquishing it as he captured a 30th ranking event crown of an illustrious career.
At one stage, when the 41 year-old went 7-0 in front, it looked as though a humbling whitewash was on the cards, but Trump managed to salvage some pride by taking the last two frames of the opening session.
The European Masters champion had went on an incredible 22-frame winning streak this week in the early rounds but his dominance seemed to run out against an altogether composed opponent who was relentless in his focus of attaining glory.
Whether it was last week’s unexpected defeat in the Champion of Champions final or just his prolonged run of form of late, O’Sullivan appeared inspired throughout this event to not let this opportunity pass him by in collecting another major piece of silverware.
Any hope of a Trump revival was dashed when O’Sullivan compiled a 108 century break at the outset of the second session of play and, as he did for the entire affair, duly took advantage of his challenger’s missed chances in the remainder of the tie to seal the lucrative triumph.
Victory, which sees the former world number one move to second in the all-time ranking event winners’ list behind Stephen Hendry, represents his second ranking event of the season and, given the kind of form he has consistently displayed of late and considering how early it still is in the campaign, it will be interesting to see how many more he can challenge for before this term has concluded.
The record for a single season, shared between Hendry, Ding Junhui, and Mark Selby, is five events but it’s already conceivable that O’Sullivan could challenge that with his current drive in tact.
O’Sullivan admitted, understandably given the sheer amount of games and travel he has undertook in the last couple of months, that he is feeling the effects of this arduous period.
But after his success in the English Open in October, the five-time world champion will surely possess enough motivation in next week’s Northern Ireland Open with the dangling carrot of a one million pound bonus on offer if he can somehow manage to attain all four Home Nations series titles.
That’s obviously a long way off but if there was one competitor who could possibly achieve it, it’s O’Sullivan.
As for the Shanghai Masters, it was another terrific week that highlighted why it’s the best event on the Chinese calendar, especially given the crowds that turned up for the majority of the sessions.
It’s interesting then that the tournament will take a varied guise for the next five years, with a new contract announced by World Snooker detailing that from next year it will be a 24-man invitational event comprising the top 16 in the world rankings and eight additional Chinese contenders.
For a long time there have been calls for an appropriate tournament in China, with prestige, to be marked as a regular fixture on the calendar and perhaps the Shanghai Masters is the best fit for such a cause.
O’Sullivan will surely be back to defend the crown next year and, despite his age, will undoubtedly be one of the favourites again as his unbelievable tenure on the tour shows no sign of letting up any time soon.