Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the final of the Champion of Champions for a fifth time after a 6-3 victory over Shaun Murphy at the Ricoh Arena on Friday evening.
The two-time champion, who has never failed to reach the title deciding match in Coventry when he has entered, avenged his surprise defeat to the “Magician” in the dramatic final twelve months ago.
O’Sullivan had already gained revenge in the finals of both the UK and Players Championship last term but victory in Coventry will surely feel sweet as he reasserts his dominance in their rivalry.
Often billed as a grudge match, O’Sullivan and Murphy have rarely seen eye-to-eye throughout their careers and, even though there has been a thawing in the relationship since last year, one would imagine that the former enjoyed getting one over on his fellow Englishman.
Indeed, O’Sullivan’s fist pump to a packed and appreciative crowd upon leaving the Ricoh Arena following his win and the admission afterwards that he had felt nervous throughout the day in the build up to the affair would seem to suggest that the 42 year-old wanted the win badly.
It was demonstrated in the match with the five-time world champion evidently focussed, albeit frustrated at times, on getting the best out of himself.
The pair traded four century breaks between them as the ridiculous tons count from the last couple of weeks continued but O’Sullivan generally had control of the fixture after winning a scrappy opening frame on the colours.
A terrific 123 from the defending champion restored early parity but O’Sullivan knocked in breaks of 64 and 82 to establish a healthy cushion at the mid-session interval.
Murphy snatched the fifth frame to put a seed of doubt into his opponent but it hardly showed as O’Sullivan fired in a brace of hundred-plus contributions to go to within the brink of success.
The 2005 world champion, who was in first in a number of frames before breaking down, prevented the inevitable with a second century of his own but O’Sullivan wrapped up the triumph with a run of 65 in the last frame.
The former world number one will now attempt to finally achieve a hat-trick of Champion of Champions titles having lost both of the last two showdowns for glory at the Ricoh Arena.
O’Sullivan, who won the lucrative Shanghai Masters invitational in September and has generally tended to produce his best form when the field consists solely of the top players in the game, will face either Mark Allen or Kyren Wilson on Sunday for the £100,000 winner’s cheque.
Allen and Wilson are both champions of events in their own right from recent weeks and months but either would have to perform strongly to deny O’Sullivan in this mood.
Live coverage of the Champion of Champions final four is on ITV4 and Facebook (selected territories)
Click here to view the draw (times: CET)
🗣️ @ronnieo147 reflects on tonight’s win over Shaun Murphy, in what has been another dominant week of snooker at the ManBetX @ChampOfChamps from the Rocket. Will he be lifting the 🏆 on Sunday?#ChampOfChamps pic.twitter.com/mVDPPSeH05
— ChampionofChampions (@ChampOfChamps) November 9, 2018