Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the 2017 UK Championship after a superb 10-5 triumph against Shaun Murphy in York on Sunday.
Victory for the Englishman takes him level with Steve Davis in the all-time UK winners’ list with six crowns, and it also means that the 42 year-old matches Stephen Hendry’s incredible Triple Crown tally of 18.
O’Sullivan was in devastating form in the evening session as he avenged his defeat to Murphy in last month’s Champion of Champions final in Coventry.
The former world number one, who will rise back up to second in the standings behind old rival Mark Selby, has now won three ranking tournaments in a season – only the second time he has achieved the feat in his career.
O’Sullivan and Murphy shared the first eight frames in an entertaining opening exchange that saw both players score quite heavily amid making a few unexpected mistakes.
Murphy, who noted beforehand the importance of getting off to a fast start, compiled a wonderful 123 break in the first frame but missed a black off the spot in the second to allow O’Sullivan off the mark with a 62.
O’Sullivan subsequently moved into the lead for the first time courtesy of a 103, an advantage he wouldn’t ever fully relinquish for the remainder of the tie.
That said, the “Rocket” threw away numerous golden opportunities to pull away and Murphy would have been the happier of the pair to come out of the afternoon session even.
The 2008 champion pinched the fourth, seventh, and eighth frames despite O’Sullivan getting in first, so would have felt buoyed that a second successive victory over the favourite on home soil could have been on the cards.
However, O’Sullivan returned for the evening’s bout of play a different animal as he turned on the afterburners with a magnificent display.
The pair traded breaks of 75 and 80 to tick the scores along to 5-5 before O’Sullivan sped out of sight in lightning fashion.
An excellent 104, followed by a 76 break, had O’Sullivan lead 7-5 at the final mid-session interval before he duly added a third ton upon the restart and an 86 to move to within the brink of the title.
O’Sullivan required two bites at the cherry to get the job done but breaks of 59 and 49, with practically every ball he attempted going into the pockets, proved enough to seal his latest success.
It was a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise terrific tournament for Murphy, who has now lost in three ranking event deciders this season.
The “Magician” put it up to O’Sullivan well at the outset of the contest but the reality is that nobody in the game would have been able to live with the standard of play that the latter produced in the second half of the affair.
O’Sullivan at his best is a joy to behold and, despite having not produced his A-game for the majority of the event, the five-time world champion undoubtedly saved his best until last.
With a hat-trick of ranking trophies already to his credit before Christmas time, it’s curious now to wonder just how many he could notch up during this campaign with possibly yet another record within his grasp.
Hendry, Selby, and Ding Junhui have all captured five in a single term before and it will be intriguing to see if O’Sullivan can match or even surpass that number in the coming months.
With his overall ranking total moving to 31, he’s also now just five behind Hendry’s all-time record.
Despite being well into his 40s, O’Sullivan shows very few signs that his game is weakening at all.
In fact, his all-round battling qualities seem to be stronger than ever and he still has the ability to produce wondrous moments of magic.
The Barbican Centre proved for another year to be a worthy backdrop to the sport’s second biggest major championship, with a packed house in to witness the most talented player in the game’s history strut his stuff once more.