Ronnie O’Sullivan became world snooker champion for the sixth time and at the age of 44 by beating fellow Englishman Kyren Wilson 18-8 in the final on Sunday.
O’Sullivan moved to within one of the all-time record of world titles, held by Stephen Hendry, and tied the number won by Steve Davis and Ray Reardon.
O’Sullivan had a tough run to the final, beating Chinese star Ding Junhui in the second round, former world champion Mark Williams in the quarterfinals, and then three-time winner Mark Selby in a spectacular semifinal that went to a decider.
The best-of-35-frame match against Wilson, a first-time finalist, ended up being a procession after O’Sullivan won seven straight frames in Sunday’s afternoon session from 10-8 up.
Returning for the evening session at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, O’Sullivan needed just one more frame for the win and sealed it with a slick break of 96.
“I was happy to get one (title). Two was great. When I got four, I called myself a great … Anything above four, you are in fantastic company,” O’Sullivan said.
“It’s nice to be living your dream,” he added.
Regarded as the most talented player ever, O’Sullivan — a right-hander who is also comfortable playing left-handed — won the world title in 2001, ’04, ’08, ’12 and ’13. He now has 37 career ranking titles, a record, and is the only player to make more than 1,000 competitive centuries.
He also has made more maximum breaks of 147 in competitive play (15) than anyone else, including one officially timed at only 5 minutes, 20 seconds at the worlds in 1997.
The outspoken O’Sullivan made waves during this tournament by saying the standard of players coming through was “not that good really” and that he’d “probably have to lose an arm and a leg to fall outside the top 50” in the world.
He has now won world titles in three different decades. Reardon won all of his in the 1970s, Davis won all of his in the ’80s, and Hendry won his seven in the ’90s.
“My thing has been longevity,” O’Sullivan said. “I go in and out of form. My mind can wander sometimes, but then I get a bit of a taste of it. I think, ‘Come on, let’s see if you’ve still got it.’”
Snooker fans were allowed in for the final, with the sport being used by the government as a pilot event to test the safe return of spectators in the hope that bigger crowds can start attending venues from the start of October.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called off previously planned pilot events — including at the Crucible after the first day of the world championship — with some fans in attendance in early August amid fears over the coronavirus infection rate.
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