O’Sullivan Wins Classic Berlin Final

Congratulations to Ronnie O’Sullivan who has tonight defeated Scotland’s Stephen Maguire in a classic final to win his first ranking event title since the 2009 Shanghai Masters. Having trailed 6-3, Ronnie won six of the next seven frames to secure a well-deserved victory, click below for more…

Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 Stephen Maguire

111-26 (111), 0-130 (130), 8-106 (106), 5-132 (128), 58-73 (O 58), 63-8, 20-69 (55), 75-24 (75), 0-115 (69), 96-40 (96), 78-0 (54), 68-59 (M 52), 94-37 (67), 75-31, 43-75 (75), 66–41

It feels like a long time ago now, but what would prove to be a high-quality final began in style as between them Ronnie and Stephen notched up four century breaks prior to the mid-session interval, one from O’Sullivan before three from Maguire including a tournament high 130, put him 3-1 ahead.

The first turning point of the match however was to come in frame five as having missed on 58, O’Sullivan was to eventually lose the frame as Maguire cleared to pink following a tense battle on the final red. It appeared for a moment as though frame six might go the same way as O’Sullivan missed a red to the right-centre on 43, but this time the Scot was not to capitalise as Ronnie soon made it 2-4. The final two frames of the session were to be shared, 55 from Stephen and 75 from Ronnie ensuring that Maguire would end the session with a narrow 5-3 advantage.

Following the resumption of play for the evening session, I wondered whether Maguire would be able to sustain the level that he had produced throughout the afternoon, and initially at least it appeared as though he could as breaks of 69 and 46 moved him three clear again at 6-3.

From there however the momentum was to shift, breaks of 96 and 54 bringing O’Sullivan to within just one frame at 6-5, before what would prove to be the most significant frame of the match. Maguire made the early running with an initial break of 52, but having then broken down, he later spurned a second chance with a miss on the yellow from which Ronnie would eventually steal the frame. The importance of the frame was not lost on O’Sullivan as unusually for him, he celebrated with a clenched fist as he went into the mid-session interval level at 6-6.

With all of the momentum, O’Sullivan swiftly added the next two frames to extend his winning streak to five and leave himself needing just one more for the title. It appeared as though that would come in frame 15 as he moved 43 points ahead, but a missed black was to give Stephen another chance. Under the most intense pressure, Maguire produced what was a fantastic clearance to close to 7-8 and keep himself in the match.

For a while it looked like Maguire might force an unlikely decider, but despite some late drama as Ronnie went in-off the blue when Maguire was playing for snookers, O’Sullivan was to eventually get over the line and secure the title.

For Ronnie it represents his first full-ranking event title since the 2009 Shanghai Masters and one that evidently meant a great deal to him judging not only by his reaction after the match, but tellingly by his demeanour around the table throughout the match. We have all seen O’Sullivan on occasion appearing to be disinterested perhaps, but today he looked to be as focused and as determined to win as I have ever seen him. He tried his absolute hardest out there and with his long game back on song, thoroughly deserved the title.

Whether that motivation came from his top 16 fight only he will know, but this result was just what he needed in terms of his ranking and lifts him four places on the provisional list to 15th and with his fate in his own hands heading into the Welsh Open. A full post will follow detailing the various ranking permutations, but it now looks more than likely that he will not have to qualify for the right to play at the Crucible in April.

As for Stephen, he was understandably disappointed during his post-match interview, but in time will hopefully be able to take the positives from what was a terrific performance from him. During the afternoon session in particular his form was devastating and if he can maintain that form it will not be long until he is back among the winners circle at a major tournament.

Overall it has been another terrific tournament in Berlin, like last year the crowd loving every moment, leading Ronnie to describe the venue as the best that the players play in at the moment. It is a shame that more of the final could not have been televised by Eurosport, however given the fact that but for their coverage we probably wouldn’t even have this tournament at the moment, I find it hard to be too scathing.

Next stop – Sheffield for the start of the Welsh Open qualifiers on Wednesday.