Ronnie O’Sullivan added another notch to his greatness with a superb 10-4 victory over Neil Robertson in defending the Players Championship on Sunday in Preston.
In the 43 year-old’s 50th ranking event final, O’Sullivan thumped the Australian with a magnificent display of power scoring.
Not only did the “Rocket” collect the £125,000 top prize, but he sent the audience at the Guild Hall into raptures as he compiled the three tons required in order to become the first player to record 1,000 century breaks in competition.
O’Sullivan had previously quipped that he would save the landmark and produce it when he felt ready, on his own terms.
Other than perhaps at the Crucible for the World Championship or maybe at the Alexandra Palace for the Masters, there couldn’t have been a much more fitting moment.
With the silverware already assured following a dominant performance that consigned his opponent mostly to his seat, O’Sullivan constructed a majestic 134 in the last frame to complete the record amid sealing the victory.
Robertson was able to laugh as he offered his hand in defeat, with the cue-ball’s last roll dropping in the centre pocket and granting him with the consolation of the high break prize.
In truth, the 37 year-old was never really in the game, finding it impossible to retrieve a 4-0 deficit as O’Sullivan took his A-game to the title decider.
Indeed, Robertson did well to get four frames as O’Sullivan rattled in breaks of 134, 116, 105, and eight further runs above 50 in devastating fashion.
O’Sullivan keeps on defying his age to send records tumbling and he has another in his sights after claiming a 35th ranking success – just over 26 years after his first that also came in Preston.
The Englishman lies only one behind the all-time record of 36 held by legend Stephen Hendry and it feels like a matter of when, rather than if, he eclipses that tally.
O’Sullivan, who also won a record seventh UK Championship in December to edge ahead of Hendry’s 18 Triple Crown titles, lapped up the appreciation of the excited crowd as history was once again made in his honour.
He had generated numerous headlines for his outlandish use of an Australian accent earlier in the tournament but there was none of that as he humbly undertook his post-match winning speech.
Delighted to win the Players Championship tonight in Preston and buzzing to have made my 1,000th century in the final frame 🏆 Thanks to all my fans for the support. Hard luck to my fellow Aussie @nr147 a class act and an even better human 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/wzxNoJ1rqO
— Ronnie O’Sullivan (@ronnieo147) March 10, 2019
A fit and willing O’Sullivan could remain at the top of the sport for a number of years to come as he shows hardly any signs of a let-up in standard.
He actually appears to be more of a winning machine than ever before and, in defending the Players Championship, he has now collected an incredible nine trophies since the outset of the 2017/18 campaign.
O’Sullivan will rise back to the number two position in the world rankings and, with Mark Selby defending a lot of points between now and the end of this term, it seems likely that the five-time world champion will return to the top spot at some point in the near future.
Many believe, rightly, that elevated position is where he belongs and he proved again in Preston why he’s simply better than the rest.
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