Snooker - O'Sullivan dismantles Murphy as Hawkins resists Dale recovery

Ronnie O'Sullivan breezed into the World Championship last four courtesy of a 13-3 mauling of 2005 winner Shaun Murphy in the quarter-finals.

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Snooker - O'Sullivan dismantles Murphy as Hawkins resists Dale recovery
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Ronnie O'Sullivan speaks to Shaun Murphy after winning his quarter final match at the Crucible Theatre on April 30, 2014 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Mark Selby was also a comfortable winner as he picked up the one frame he needed from leading 12-4 overnight to complete a 13-5 win over fellow former Masters winner and Scotland's last representative Alan McManus, whose lack of serious scoring prowess curtailed any realistic notion he had of remaining viable in this year's competition.

Barry Hawkins (pictured below) will face O'Sullivan in the semi-finals having staved off an astonishing recovery by Dominic Dale in completing a 13-12 win.

Hawkins had led 11-5, but watched Dale claim seven straight frames with knocks of 65, 64, 47, 61 and 52 to lead 12-11. With world number four Hawkins facing elimination, the man from Ditton produced his very best stuff in compiling runs of 66 and 65 in the final two frames to secure a rematch with O'Sullivan, who overcame him in last year's final.

It was little wonder Hawkins almost punched his fist into the table in relief with Dale left with the consolation of doing little or nothing wrong in the final two frames.

O'Sullivan completed his progress having resumed on Wednesday morning leading 6-2 from Tuesday's first session.

When Murphy won the first two frames of the match and pieced together a 49-0 lead in the third frame, he would never have expected to win only one more frame from the next 14. The most disconcerting aspect of the defeat was that O'Sullivan was never at his best as Murphy squandered several opportunities to at least make the scoreline more interesting.

By the end of the match, Murphy cut a slightly forlorn figure with the rueful grin on his face telling the several hundred onlookers inside the Crucible Theatre enough about how his aspirations had unravelled.

The defending five-times world champion O'Sullivan - bidding for a third straight title at the Crucible this year - won seven of the eight frames of Wednesday morning's second session to win the quarter-final with a session to spare.

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"I kept getting let in quite easily, I didn't have to fight for my chances and I was scoring off Shaun's mistakes," said O'Sullivan, who has never lost to Murphy in ranking tournament.

"I just tried to score off every opportunity. I tried to play good safety and good match snooker. I had a tough match against Joe Perry and you don't want to have too many like that.

"Even before the tournament started, I thought Barry Hawkins was definitely one of the danger men in this event, especially the way he played against me in last year's final. He played some of the best snooker that anyone's played against me - he just seemed relentless and was good in all areas.

"I don't think anyone would have beaten me in last year's final - I felt that good. Maybe John Higgins and Stephen Hendry on top form may have given me a closer game but if I play like that I fancy beating anybody.

"If I get going then I put that much pressure on my opponent. If you start to hit the ball really well and score heavily, that's what happens when you're playing at the top of your game."

Murphy's morning started off badly before wandering off downhill as O'Sullivan pieced together 63 on his way to extending his advantage to 8-3. Murphy halted the bleeding temporarily by picking up the 11th frame after O'Sullivan had missed an easy pink to a centre pocket when the frame looked his.

But there was always a nagging feeling that Murphy was living on borrowed time as O'Sullivan responded with 118 in the 12th frame after Murphy had unfortunately suffered a horrendous kick in missing a black after a fine opening red.

Murphy should have clawed back to 9-4 behind after O'Sullivan broke down on 59, but he again messed up having made 54 when he somehow failed to slot the final pink.

O'Sullivan wheeled in the pink with the extended rest. Murphy's suffering continued in the 14th frame as he responded to O'Sullivan's 47 with a 45, but jawing a green off the spot saw his opponent tidy up by clearing to black for an 11-3 lead.

It was suddenly a case of whether or not O'Sullivan could get the assignment completed before the third session. He duly did as a 42 and 68 ended Murphy's suffering to leave him wondering what might have been if he had taken the copious amounts of chances that fell to him over three hours and 44 minutes of play.

"That's how tough it is against O'Sullivan. We're blessed and lucky to be in the era of Ronnie ..we're all very privileged to be here witnessing someone who's that good," said Murphy. "You feel as if you're playing on his table - it's very, very difficult and I didn't cope with it very well. He's certainly the most naturally-gifted player we've ever seen - left-handed, right-handed, maximums all over the place - he's becoming the most decorated player of all time.

"For his own personal benefit, he'll want to win this tournament more times and break Stephen Hendry's record - he'll equal Davis and Reardon if he wins this year - but I think little goals like that are very important.

"You've got to hit Ronnie hard and early to stand any chance, otherwise he just rolls you over. We've all got to become more clinical. I did have my chances, it's not like I sat in my seat for the whole match and played every shot from the baulk cushion snookered. We've all got to raise our own bar."

Mark Selby starts out his semi-final against 2010 world champion Neil Robertson on Thursday evening after the Australian notched his 100th century of the season and came from behind to beat Judd Trump 13-11.

O'Sullivan's odds of 4/7 to win the tournament and trouser a £300,000 cheque seem generous when you consider the levels he tends to be capable of in the latter stages of the sport's most celebrated event.

It is difficult to escape from the conclusion that the only man who can beat O'Sullivan at this year's tournament is himself.

TUESDAY REPORT

Ronnie O'Sullivan punished a slipshod performance by Shaun Murphy to open up a 6-2 lead in the World Championship quarter-finals at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

World number one Neil Robertson appeared to struggle as badly as Murphy on the other table as he fell 6-2 behind to Judd Trump after their opening session.

Robertson picked up the opening frame, but was forced to sit and suffer as Trump - who ousted Robertson in the first round three years ago on his way to reaching the final - ran in 63, 107 and 60 on his way to collecting the next five frames.

Trump could easily have won the seventh frame, but Robertson pinched it on the black to trail 5-2. His momentum was halted in the eighth as a closing 117 earned Trump a four-frame advantage after Robertson had again been first among the balls.

Murphy started his quarter-final like an express train in claiming the first two frames with knocks of 101 and 59 as O'Sullivan could only sit on and watch. He looked poised for a 3-0 lead, but broke down on 43 with a 49-0 lead as O'Sullivan managed to recover despite struggling for fluency.

The defending champion got the snooker he needed behind the black on the final brown. Murphy missed the brown ball before O'Sullivan mopped up brown, blue, pink and black to register his first frame.

It was a noticeable turning point of the contest as O'Sullivan restored parity at 2-2 before a run of 72 earned him a 3-2 lead without ever being at his best. Murphy had more chances in the seventh frame, but a poor shot on the final pink enabled a disbelieving O'Sullivan to slot pink and black for a 4-2 advantage.

The momentum was now firmly with O'Sullivan, and he seized the initiative with the 2005 world champion rocking and missing obvious chances as closing knocks 94 and 136 saw him carry a four-frame lead into the second session of the match when they resume at 10am on Wednesday morning.

Last year's losing finalist Barry Hawkins is two frames short of a place in this year's last four after opening up an 11-5 lead over Dominic Dale. Having won the opening session 6-2 in the morning, Hawkins - who could face O'Sullivan in the semis after losing to him in last year's final - added another five in the evening to leave himself two frames short of progress when they play to a finish on Wednesday afternoon.

For the record, Hawkins contributed 63, 78, 81, 134, 92, 58, 88 and 67 leaving him in control.

Mark Selby also stands on the cusp of a semi-final spot after recovering from trailing 3-2 to Alan McManus in the morning session to lead 12-4 against an opponent whose lack of scoring power among the balls helped seal his fate in this year's tournament.

Selby stepped up the pace after a turgid first five frames with breaks of 110, 86, 87, 109 and 74 leaving him needing one more frame when they resume on Wednesday morning at 10am.

Wednesday, 30 April

Quarter-finals (Best of 25 frames)

10:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 13-3 Shaun Murphy (Eng)

Mark Selby (Eng) 13-5 Alan McManus (Sco)

14:30

Judd Trump (Eng) 6-2 Neil Robertson (Aus)

Barry Hawkins (Eng) 13-12 Dominic Dale (Wal)

19:00

Judd Trump (Eng) v Neil Robertson (Aus)

Thursday, 1 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

13:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) v Judd Trump (Eng) or Neil Robertson (Aus)

Friday, 2 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)

14:30

Mark Selby (Eng) v Judd Trump (Eng) or Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)

Saturday, 3 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Mark Selby (Eng) v Judd Trump (Eng) or Neil Robertson (Aus)

14:30

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Barry Hawkins (Eng)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) v Judd Trump (Eng) or Neil Robertson (Aus)

Sunday, 4 May

Final (best of 35 frames)

14:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)/Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)/Judd Trump (Eng)/Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)/Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)/Judd Trump (Eng)/Neil Robertson (Aus)

Monday, 5 May

Final (best of 35 frames)

14:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)/Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)/Judd Trump (Eng)/Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)/Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)/Judd Trump (Eng)/Neil Robertson (Aus)

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