But despite his clinical performance, the English Open will best be remembered for the bizarre conclusion to The Rocket’s third round encounter with Zhang Yong.
Having a jog
O’Sullivan was on a break of 123 and getting down to pot the pink in his winning frame when a female spectator evaded security and started running around the table, saying “I’m just having a jog.” As match officials attempted to stop her, O’Sullivan smiled and potted the pink undaunted, before handing his cue to the woman and inviting her to attempt the final black. She missed, despite O’Sullivan offering her a second attempt, and was then led gently away.
The Rocket said: “I really wanted her to pot it,” and remarked that he had “probably saved her from being rugby tackled” by security.
The incident exemplifies a tournament that has seen O’Sullivan looking cool and relaxed, despite some adversity from an ankle injury that forced him to seek special dispensation to wear trainers in the opening rounds. Yet throughout, he has been good humoured, chatting to the spectators, and even to the media. And he has steadily played better and better.
Odds of a Sixth World Title Shortening
At 41, there is little doubt that The Rocket is no longer at the peak of his remarkable talent. However, even at 80 percent, he is still a power to be reckoned with, and the snooker betting sites have already shortened the odds of him picking up a sixth world title to 5/1.
For the past six years, he and world number one Mark Selby have dominated proceedings at The Crucible – one or other of them has lifted the title every year except in 2015, when Basildon’s Stuart Bingham came from nowhere to stun the snooker world.
This year, it is hard to see beyond the two giants of the present age. Selby is, of course, favourite at 3/1, having won three out of the last four years. But despite not having contested a crucible final since 2014, when Selby beat him 18-14, O’Sullivan nevertheless looks to be the only man with a realistic chance of beating the so-called Jester from Leicester.
Kyren Wilson is widely regarded as one of the best young players on the circuit, and many experts, including O’Sullivan himself, tip him as a future world champion. However, Wilson was born the year Ronnie O’Sullivan turned professional, and on this occasion, it showed. O’Sullivan was relentless, knocking in four century breaks including a magnificent 131 to wrap things up.
In collecting the Steve Davis Trophy, he also surpassed The Nugget’s tally of 28 world ranking titles.
The focus now shifts to China for the International Championship in Daqing, followed by the Shanghai Masters, in which local hero Ding Junhui will seek to defend his title.