Snooker - Superb O'Sullivan hammers Hawkins to reach sixth world final

Ronnie O'Sullivan butchered Barry Hawkins 17-7 to reach his sixth World Championship final with a session to spare at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

Eurosport
Snooker - Superb O'Sullivan hammers Hawkins to reach sixth world final
.

View photo

Ronnie O'Sullivan during the World Championship semi-final with Barry Hawkins.

The first four frames of Friday's third session were shared between the two men with O'Sullivan resuming 11-5 ahead before making 76 to move 12-5 clear. Hawkins won the 18th frame only for O'Sullivan to punish his opponent's inability to score heavily by running in 49 and 55 for a 13-6 lead.

Hawkins produced a 67 to close to 13-7 with O'Sullivan knowing that he needed to win all four frames after the mid-session interval to ensure he would not have to return for a fourth session of nine frames on Saturday afternoon.

It barely seemed possible, but O'Sullivan managed to find another gear with arugably his best snooker of the tournament as runs of 103, 84, 40 and 43 giave him the platform to complete a 10-frame win that means he has the day off on Saturday to prepare for the best-of-35 frame final on Sunday and Monday.

"I hadn't played for two months going into this tournament so I'd got a bit bored of practising, but that's because I didn't enter any tournaments so that's my own fault," said O'Sullivan.

"As each match goes on you do feel like you get into it, though I played well in the first session against Robin Hull. It ebbs and flows really. "I've still got one more match to play so I can't afford to get all excited. It's all about the final for me on Sunday and Monday now. I just want to enjoy my day off and get ready to play in what is our biggest tournament, competing in the final.

"I'm just buzzing to be playing and enjoying it. To get to three finals in a row having already won two - if you'd have told me that three years ago it would've never entered my thoughts that I could do it. "

He will hope that Mark Selby and Neil Robertson go deep into the other semi-final. Selby holds a 9-7 advantage before they resume at 10am on Saturday morning, and play to a finish from 7pm on Saturday night.

"Neil and Mark are both top class players. Neil's number one in the world and scoring heavy and Mark's the toughest competitor on tour. I've got the upmost respect for both of them,"O'Sullivan said.

"I'll just have to prepare and go out there and do my job and give them something to think about. If I can play in my game and score then I'm sure I'll have a good chance."

O'Sullivan has not lost at the Crucible since John Higgins overcame him 13-10 in the 2011 quarter-finals. He needs to win one more match this year to equal the records of Steve Davis and Ray Reardon with their six world titles, and move within one more title of Stephen Hendry's record of seven set in the 1990s.

On all the gathered evidence so far in this tournament, he seems to be getting better the longer the 17-day event goes on.

SECOND SESSION

Ronnie O'Sullivan extended his lead over Barry Hawkins to 11-5 courtesy of two centuries in their World Championship semi-final at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

Resuming holding a 6-2 lead from Thursday's opening session, the world champion - watched by his mentor sports psychiatrist Doctor Steve Peters - won the first four frames of the morning session boosted by breaks of 83, 53, 112 and 106 as Hawkins was largely reduced to the role of spectator.

With four frames remaining of the second session, the scoreline could have been a lot bleaker for Hawkins, but he managed to pinch a scrappy 13th frame to trail 10-3 before O'Sullivan missed a green along the baulk cushion late in the 14th frame when he seemed likely to move 11-3 ahead.

Another error by Hawkins in missing a red to a centre pocket was a pivotal moment in seeing him fall 11-4 behind, but he pounced on an O'Sullivan miss on a red on 10 when the world champion was among the balls in the 16th frame before compiling 106 of his own to reduce the deficit to six frames.

It remains a daunting obstacle for Hawkins - who has lost the first two sessions 6-2 and 5-3 - to retrieve, with O'Sullivan continuing to flirt with the prospect of winning the six frames he needs to reach the final from the eight frames scheduled in Friday's third session (7pm start BST).

O'Sullivan is bidding for a sixth world title and a third straight success at the Crucible, and would dearly love a rest day before Sunday and Monday's best-of-35 frame final.

The second semi-final between Neil Robertson and Mark Selby continues at 2:30pm on Friday with Selby holding a 5-3 lead from their first session.

FIRST SESSION

Ronnie O'Sullivan recovered from trailing 2-1 to construct a 6-2 lead over fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins after the first session of their World Championship semi-final at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre.

O'Sullivan overcame Hawkins 18-12 to claim his fifth world title a year ago, and there looks every chance of a repeat outcome in Sheffield unless his opponent can discover some fluency in the remaining three sessions of the best-of-33 frame contest.

It was an ominous first session for Hawkins, whose solitary win in seven meetings with O'Sullivan came in the last 32 of the Scottish Open some 12 years ago.

O'Sullivan won the opening frame with a knock of 63 only for Hawkins to prove he was not fatigued by the nature of his 13-12 win over Dominic Dale in the quarter-finals on Wednesday in contributing 96 and 76 to move 2-1 clear.

World number four Hawkins suffered the first of two brutal kicks when he missed a red with the rest as O'Sullivan left it late in the fourth frame to restore parity at 2-2.

A knock of 80 earned O'Sullivan a 3-2 lead before another kick in attempting to hole a red to a left centre pocket on a run of 31 left Hawkins cutting a downtrodden figure as his opponent polished off the rest of the table with a 39 clearance proving more potent than it sounded.

With a two-frame advantage in hand, O'Sullivan pounced on the momentum change and Hawkins' hangdog look to run in a majestic 108 as 4-2 quickly became 5-2.

The lead increased to 6-2 in the final frame of the session with Hawkins clearly feeling the mental effect of an unfortunate piece of luck in suffering a kick that deprived him of the likelihood of levelling at 3-3. Chances came and went for Hawkins in the eighth frame which is worrying for his prospects of attempting to question O'Sullivan's resolve over such a long distance.

He must come to his senses when the pair play their second session of a possible four at 10am on Friday morning.

The first man to 17 frames reaches the final with O'Sullivan continuing his quest to join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon as players to win six world titles in the modern era with Stephen Hendry's seven remaining a vialble target for the world champion.

The second semi-final between world number one Neil Robertson and Mark Selby begins at 7pm (BST) on Thursday evening.

Thursday, 1 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

13:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 6-2 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) 5-3 Neil Robertson (Aus)

Friday, 2 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 11-5 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

14:30

Mark Selby (Eng) 9=-7 Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 17-7 Barry Hawkins (Eng)

Saturday, 3 May

Semi-finals (Best of 33 frames)

10:00

Mark Selby (Eng) v Neil Robertson (Aus)

19:00

Mark Selby (Eng) v Neil Robertson (Aus)

Sunday, 4 May

Final (best of 35 frames)

14:00

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

19:00

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

19:00

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

View comments (16)