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World Snooker Championship 2022: Ronnie O’Sullivan books final place against Judd Trump

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan has made 12 centuries in this year’s World Championship
Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 16 April-2 May
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV and Red Button with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport app

Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed a comfortable 17-11 win over John Higgins to book his place in the World Championship final against Judd Trump.

Six-time champion O’Sullivan, 46, becomes the oldest finalist since Ray Reardon reached the 1982 final aged 49.

Resuming 15-9 ahead, the world number one won two of the evening’s first four frames to seal his win.

Earlier on Saturday, 2019 winner Trump withstood a Mark Williams fightback to win a final-frame decider 17-16.

While that match was a nerve-shredding affair, O’Sullivan’s progression to an eighth Crucible final was relatively routine.

A break of 67 put him on the cusp of victory after four-time champion Higgins took the opening frame with a run of 69.

However, the Scot was always up against it after under performing for huge parts of the match and while he further reduced his arrears to 16-11, ‘the Rocket’ confirmed his win before the scheduled mid-session interval.

O’Sullivan has won six of his seven finals and will now attempt to equal Stephen Hendry’s coveted record of seven titles in the modern era.

Trump prevents remarkable Williams recovery

Trailing 12-5 on Friday, three-time champion Williams almost staged the biggest ever Crucible semi-final comeback as he reeled off 11 of the next 14 frames to establish a 16-15 lead against Trump.

Williams had been playing catch-up since a dismal opening session saw him fall 7-1 behind.

But an exhilarating display of potting brought him back into the contest, as he concluded on Friday evening just two frames behind at 13-11.

And that shift of momentum was evident as play resumed on Saturday, with Trump benefitting from two cross doubles in the final frame to triumph.

“There were so many emotions going through that game,” Trump told BBC Sport.

“I knew he would fight back at some point but he [Mark Williams] played unbelievable and I was just sat there. It made it easier for me to take because I was not doing much wrong.

“I was actually enjoying watching him and he was incredible. I was praying he was going to make some mistakes and I had all my luck in the last frame. For two of them [cross doubles] to go your way you know it is your day.”

Roared on by a packed auditorium a superb swerve shot and run of 59 saw Williams reduce the deficit to one frame before levelling the match with a wonderful 137.

The players then traded frames as Williams made it 15-15 with his 16th century of the Championship, a 138, equalling Stephen Hendry’s 20-year record for the number of tons made by a player in a single year at the Crucible.

When Williams won a tense tactical exchange on the blue he edged ahead for the first time in the contest and appeared to be set to record the second biggest turnaround in Crucible history after Dennis Taylor’s famous revival from 8-0 down to win the 1985 final against Steve Davis.

To his credit, Trump exhibited all of the the talent and resilience that has carried him to 23 ranking titles and helped him win all three ‘Triple Crown’ events to win the penultimate frame.

And a dramatic finale, saw Williams fluke a red after being snookered but miss a tough blue, with Trump stepping in to make 49 before missing a simple red with the rest.

But when Williams broke down on 25 points, Trump potted two astonishing cross doubles and another difficult red to leave the 47-year-old needing three-four point snookers – a feat even he could not accomplish.

“The crowd were on their feet when I was coming back from the toilet and for the first time it sounded like I had 80% of the support which is very rare against Judd because he is the most popular player,” Williams said.

“It looked like he was going to run away with it but I stuck in there and got back to 16-15 in front. But every credit to him, there is no question he can win it.”

O’Sullivan goes through the gears

O’Sullivan’s task on Saturday evening was made all the easier after establishing such a commanding lead.

Trailing 10-6, four-time winner Higgins won the first frame of the day but was unable to apply any serious pressure on his ‘Class of 92’ adversary despite registering his first century of the match.

O’Sullivan played with greater rhythm and poise, compiling breaks of 82, 101, 121 and a superb 134 to extend his lead.

It was another brilliant performance from O’Sullivan, who has compiled a dozen centuries at this year’s tournament although he was aided considerably by a below-par Higgins.

The four-time winner, who has laboured throughout the match, briefly found his touch with a wonderful run of 103 to eclipse his previous highest break in the match of 58.

But the Scot exhibited his frustration by slamming his cue into the floor after missing a long red in the 22nd frame. The miss came after he had failed with a relatively easy red to the right middle in the previous frame, gifting it to an on-song O’Sullivan, who made the 100th century of this year’s tournament.

The ‘Rocket’ rarely looked like missing once among the balls and provided a precursor of what was to follow by exhibiting exemplary cue-ball control when winning his first frame of the day – the pattern continuing as he pressed home his superiority.

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