The “Rocket” produced a mesmorising comeback to reach his first Crucible final since 2014.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is through to the 2020 World Snooker Championship final after a barnstorming 17-16 victory over Mark Selby on Friday in Sheffield.
The “Rocket” sensationally fought back from 16-14 behind, reeling off the last three frames with sizable contributions to deny his long-time rival.
O’Sullivan will face Kyren Wilson this weekend with the £500,000 champion’s cheque to play for, as well as the coveted title of world champion, after the Kettering cueist narrowly outlasted Anthony McGill.
On an utterly dramatic final day of the semi-finals, it marked the first time in Crucible history that both encounters in the last four lasted the distance.
For O’Sullivan, it looked like he was going to fall short in his efforts to reach a seventh career title decider.
Despite winning four frames on the bounce to restore parity at 13-13, Selby knuckled down in trademark fashion to pull away once again – having earlier won 11 out of 15 frames to lead 13-9.
When Selby moved to within one frame of the final and his illustrious opponent was bashing the balls around with apparent nonchalance, it looked as though there was only ever going to be one outcome.
The three-time champion, who memorably overcame O’Sullivan in the final six years ago, labelled the 44 year-old’s attitude as “disrespectful to me and the game.”
However, to O’Sullivan’s credit he produced his very best when he needed it the most, and despite claiming that all he desires is a decent “cue action” he managed to compile timely runs of 138, 71, and 64 to survive in the competition.
Two semi-final deciders at the Crucible for the first time ever #value
— Matt (@ProSnookerBlog) August 14, 2020
While the obvious headline will surround O’Sullivan’s bid for a sixth world crown that will take him just one behind Stephen Hendry’s modern-day snooker record, there is actually another snooker record within reach now.
The sixth seed would in fact surpass Hendry’s long-held record tally of career ranking titles, having been tied with the Scot on 36 triumphs for more than a year.
There’ll be plenty at stake as the final gets under way on Saturday, lasting four sessions over the best of 35 frames.
For now, everyone can catch their breath after a day in the sport that could feasibly go down as the most exciting ever.
Featured photo credit: WST