Ronnie O’Sullivan romped to victory in the World Grand Prix by comfortably outplaying Ding Junhui to secure a 10-3 scoreline at the Guild Hall on Sunday in Preston.
The Englishman was rarely troubled as he confidently powered his way to a fourth ranking title of the campaign, more than he has ever managed in a single season throughout his illustrious campaign.
The record for one term, jointly held by Ding, Stephen Hendry, and Mark Selby, is five so he now has that target in sight while O’Sullivan also moves within just four ranking triumphs of Hendry’s all-time career best tally of 36 crowns.
Despite the fact that the opening four frames were shared, O’Sullivan was always in complete control and his glory looked all but inevitable after he established a 6-3 first session advantage – thanks in large part to a hat-trick of century breaks.
Ding, whose titanic semi-final struggle with world champion Mark Selby finished after midnight on Saturday night, compared to O’Sullivan who enjoyed a day off following his equally hard-fought last four win against Stephen Maguire on Friday, never really looked at the races.
The Chinese number one desperately required a speedy start to the second session but could only muster a handful of points as his supreme opponent continued to dominate.
O’Sullivan wasn’t able to add to his ton total, which has now reached 933 and is in touching distance of the inevitable 1,000 milestone, but the 42 year-old did manage to wrap up proceedings before any mid-session interval was needed.
The triumph adds to previous champagne moments this season in the English Open, Shanghai Masters, and UK Championship, and brings the “Rocket” closer in the world rankings to old rival Selby.
Indeed, after pocketing the £100,000 top prize, O’Sullivan’s season earnings have passed the half a million pound mark and he’s firmly established himself as the number two ranked player in the standings.
In truth, though, the rankings might say one thing but nobody will be able to argue with the reality that O’Sullivan continues to represent simply the best player in the world and arguably the fiercest of all time.
It seems certain that he will eventually hunt down Hendry’s once unbreakable record of 36 trophies and a sixth world crown must be the next big conquest – if, of course, he decides to take part at the sport’s annual blue riband tournament in Sheffield.
For Ding, it marks as further disappointment against a competitor he has had frequent hardships against in the last decade.
One of the 30 year-old’s finest moments came at the Crucible last year when he downed O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals but today’s outcome mirrored most of the pair’s other clashes with one another.
There aren’t too many, if any, who can live with O’Sullivan in this kind of mood and Ding will have to take solace in that he has at least put behind him a dreadful spell on the tour that resulted in several limp exits from events.
O’Sullivan is once again the man in the limelight, though, and shows no signs, despite his age, of a let up in his relentless success any time soon.