The First One Is Always Special

Rocket Soars To Beat Bingham

Ronnie O’Sullivan made two centuries and four more breaks over 50 as he stormed into the quarter-finals of the Dafabet Masters with a 6-2 win over Stuart Bingham.

On a day when The Spectator magazine described O’Sullivan as ‘the most skilful sportsperson the world has ever seen’, he showed off his unique talent to a 2,000-strong full house at Alexandra Palace. The Rocket now faces Ryan Day on Thursday afternoon.

Tickets for certain sessions still available – click here for details. 

World number three O’Sullivan won the Masters for a record seventh time in 2017, and he set another new record at last month’s UK Championship when he landed a 19th Triple Crown title. In perhaps the best form of his career at the age of 43, he has won three of the five tournaments he has contested this season, losing just two out of 29 matches. And on today’s evidence, his game remains razor sharp.

After losing a scrappy opening frame, O’Sullivan won five in a row with breaks of 59, 96, 134, 111 and 60. The two centuries took his career tally to 988, just 12 short of the landmark of 1,000 he will surely reach over the coming weeks.

Bingham pulled one back with a 71 and made 62 in the next. But his hopes of recovering to 5-3 were soon dashed. O’Sullivan made a 66 clearance to force a respotted black, then got the better of a safety exchange  before slotting the black into a top corner.

“I felt alright in spells, and I missed a few,” said Chigwell’s O’Sullivan. “Stuart didn’t play too well. It was just one of those games where you do what you can to get over the line.”

O’Sullivan admitted a lack of sleep had left him tired during today’s match. “Hopefully I can feel a bit fresher on Thursday,” he said. “I’ve had insomnia for about seven or eight years. Sometimes it’s alright and sometimes it’s not. Last night I was absolutely shattered and I’m just relieved to get over the line today.”

He was also asked about tennis player Andy Murray whose career may have come to an end today due to injury. O’Sullivan said: “I’ve never met the guy, but obviously he’s done amazingly well to break the mould. For a lot of British tennis players, a bit like the football team, it was ingrained in them to just be happy with the semi-final or make the final and that would be classed as a victory. He’s probably one of our best sportsmen of all time.”

Bingham said: “It was definitely a below-par performance. I had a chance in more or less every frame, but I just couldn’t seem to get hold of the white. I just needed to settle down but from 1-1 Ronnie played one visit snooker. He’s the best player in the world, and you aren’t going to get a second chance when you leave him in the balls.

“It’s more embarrassing when you played like that in front of a packed crowd. I just couldn’t seem to get going.

“It’s my daughter’s second birthday today so not the birthday present I wanted for her but I’ll spend the day with her now.”