Ronnie O’Sullivan continued his defence of the Shanghai Masters with a 10-6 defeat of the in-form Kyren Wilson – in doing so advancing to Sunday’s final in China.
The world number three won the tournament’s last staging as a ranking event ten months ago and is now one victory from claiming its reincarnation as the most lucrative invitational on the calendar.
O’Sullivan wasn’t at his best throughout the contest but still produced enough to get the job done and arguably took advantage of an opponent who wilted under the pressure of facing his fellow Englishman on such a big stage.
Wilson had been on a remarkable 19-game winning streak that encompassed capturing titles in both the Paul Hunter Classic and the Six Red World Championship in recent weeks.
But even though he had numerous opportunities to stamp his authority on Friday’s contest, he couldn’t quite land the killer blow that potentially would have rattled the “Rocket”.
Wilson lost several key frames that he probably should have won, including as early as the third when he could have built up a 3-0 advantage and then again in the sixth, which he lost on the black to drop a fourth frame on the spin and fall 4-2 behind.
The Kettering cueist subsequently did well to trail by only one after the opening session and then restored parity at 6-6 upon the game’s restart, before the key moment of the match played out in the 13th frame.
With both players missing golden chances to establish a vital lead at the last mid-session interval, Wilson finally rattled a straightforward blue and O’Sullivan duly cleared the three remaining balls to somehow stay in front.
Wilson failed to recover and never looked like mounting any sort of a serious threat thereafter, with breaks of 88, 60, and 84 helping O’Sullivan into the final where a whopping £200,000 is up for grabs.
The latter had his moments, including a lovely 135 break in the fifth frame to take a lead that he ultimately would never then relinquish for the remainder of the tie, but in truth this wasn’t one of the 42 year-old’s best displays.
O’Sullivan, who made the surprising decision to start working with the SightRight coaching stable during the summer, potted well from distance but threw in a flurry of unexpected misses and at times appeared like someone who was lacking in patience.
The winner of five ranking event titles last season was there for the taking but perhaps it was just a match too far for Wilson, who must still be delighted overall with his current form and will surely be an important protagonist at the business end of many more tournaments for the remainder of this term.
Poor tired performance in that semi final unfortunately! It’s been a busy month!! Good luck to @ronnieo147 in the final. Can’t wait to get home for a few days with the family it’s a busy old tour these days. #ShanghaiMasters
— Kyren Wilson (@KyrenWilson) September 14, 2018
O’Sullivan then, in his bid to become the first player to win a hat-trick of Shanghai Masters titles, moves one step closer to lifting the silverware aloft again but could face a competitor hoping to achieve the same feat as 2013 and 2016 champion Ding Junhui competes in Saturday’s second semi-final.
A clash between O’Sullivan and Ding in front of the Chinese number one’s legion of home supporters would be something to savour but Barry Hawkins will have plenty to say about that and it’s worth remembering that the “Hawk” hammered Ding the last time the pair met during this year’s World Snooker Championship.
O’Sullivan probably won’t mind too much who he faces and whether he’s on his A-game or not seems almost irrelevant; he’ll be the favourite and it’ll take quite a lot to stop him.