O’Sullivan books Shanghai final place

So we are down to just two. Meeting Liang Wenbo in tomorrow’s Shanghai Masters final will be world number 1 Ronnie O’Sullivan who managed to come through comfortably this afternoon against an out of sorts John Higgins…

Ronnie O’Sullivan 6-1 John Higgins
73(73)-0, 58-50(40), 65(53)-28, 81(81)-0, 40-65, 54-1

Today’s clash of the titans between Ronnie and John may not have been the highest quality match they have ever played, but it was as hard fought as always and intriguing all the same.

Ronnie made a quick start in frame one, punishing an error from the reigning world champion with a break of 73 before he took what for me was the most significant frame of the match to lead 2-0. It was so important because by my reckoning John had at least five reasonable opportunities to level the match, but as he left the final pink in the jaws he conceded to leave himself with a real mountain to climb.

Still, he is experienced enough to handle a setback and looked well set to reduce his arrears in frame three to just one frame again. Unfortunately however he was denied on just 24 by a horrible ‘kick’ which a ruthless O’Sullivan took full advantage of with a break of 53.

Ronnie was not at his absolute best but much like in the Masters final back in January he was determined and in frame four was on for his tenth maximum before breaking down on 81. It was not an easy chance however with two reds close to side-cushions and he at least did enough to clinch the frame.

Having done so Ronnie went into the interval with a 4-0 advantage and considering that Ronnie is probably the best frontrunner in the game at the moment, from there it was always going to be extremely difficult for John to recover. He did manage to take a scrappy fifth frame to avoid the whitewash but the writing was very much on the wall and O’Sullivan managed to come through to take a 6-1 victory.

Not only is this a brilliant result for Ronnie, but incredibly it is his first ranking event victory over John since the 2003 Irish Masters final, an incredible statistic when you consider that they have met on several occasions since. Now through to his second straight final in Shanghai he will be the hot favourite to defeat Liang Wenbo and go home with the trophy, but look what happened last year…

For Higgins it was just one of those days, he rarely got going and when he made a mistake, O’Sullivan was in the mood to take full advantage. Still, a semi-final to start the season is not a bad result, indeed he did the same last season and look how that turned out!