Ronnie O’Sullivan secured his place in the final of the Dafabet English Open with an absorbing 6-4 defeat of Anthony McGill in Barnsley.
Tomorrow’s showpiece clash with Kyren Wilson will be the Rocket’s 43rd appearance in a ranking final. He hasn’t lifted ranking silverware for the past 20 months, having lost two finals last season. Although he did win a record seventh Masters title in January.
O’Sullivan established an early lead today and would have been forgiven for thinking it could be a brief night’s work. He holds a 100% record against McGill and had won all five of their meetings prior to this evening’s clash.
The Scot will have to wait for his second ranking title on UK soil. However, he can take solace in the fact that he is enjoying his most consistent run as a professional, having reached a final, two semi-finals and three quarter-finals this campaign.
It was a rapid opening from the five-time World Champion this evening. He burst to a 3-0 advantage with runs of 62, 52 and 77. However, a gutsy contribution of 57 from McGill kept him within touch at the interval with the score at 3-1.
O’Sullivan re-asserted his authority when they returned, firing in a sublime break of 139 to lead 4-1. However, that wasn’t the killer blow as the resolute Scot refused to wilt under the pressure. Back-to-back frames pulled him within one at 4-3, before a hugely dramatic eighth frame.
McGill had trailed 42-1 before compiling a run of 62. The frame looked at his mercy after he developed the final brown. However, he jawed it and left O’Sullivan to clinch the frame on the black and move 5-3 ahead. (watch here)
The Scot continued to apply pressure and made it 5-4 thanks to a break of 71. However, the Rocket wasn’t to be denied. He deposited a fine long red from the break and went on to clear with 133 to finish off a thriller.
When asked about trying to match John Higgins’ tally of 29 ranking titles O’Sullivan said: “I’d be silly to say I don’t want to break all of the records. Who wouldn’t? But for me it is all about the competition and enjoying it. Ranking titles and championships should happen organically. Tonight it was a great atmosphere and I think we created that.
“Kyren is solid and has a great technique. He’s already won a ranking title. There are six or seven good young players who are hungry. Guys like John Higgins and I now need to put the work in. We probably need to do it in spurts. If I am going to win tomorrow, I’ll need two or three of them.”
Afterwards McGill admitted that his miss in the eighth frame could have been an important moment.
“In hindsight I probably should have just stunned the brown. I had just wanted to play the ball the way I normally would,” said the 2016 Indian Open Champion. “I had a chance to win the match, but my break-off cost me two frames. I just tried to take him into the war zone because I am not going to walk over the top of him. My best chance was to try and make it tight.”