Ronnie O’Sullivan completed a sensational fightback by downing Judd Trump on the last black to win 10-9 and reach the final of the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno.
O’Sullivan will now play Neil Robertson or Mark Allen over the best of 25 frames on Saturday and Sunday, with the winner receiving £150,000.
The deciding frame was packed with drama, as both players had opportunities to seal the match. Masters champion Trump was first in with a break of 50, before breaking down and allowing O’Sullivan back into the frame.
Eventually it all came down to the colours, where Trump spurned a match ball yellow to the baulk corner. O’Sullivan then potted a stunning yellow and proceeded to clear and steal the match. He clinched it with a tough black along the top cushion, punching the air with delight after it dropped. The Rocket was never ahead until that very last ball.
Victory means that O’Sullivan now edges in front in their head-to-head record, leading 11-10. It’s his first win of the season over Trump, who had defeated him in finals at the Northern Ireland Open and the Masters.
The result now leaves O’Sullivan potentially just one match away from equalling Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 ranking event titles. If the five-time World Champion seals the trophy on Sunday, it would also see him move to world number one and end Mark Selby’s four-year reign at the top of the rankings.
O’Sullivan and Trump came into today’s clash tied in the race to win the inaugural Coral Cup, to be awarded to the player who earns the most money from the three Coral Series events. O’Sullivan will win the cup unless Robertson takes the title.
The Ace in the Pack had led 6-2 after a sparkling first session of snooker this afternoon, but he was soon reeled in as O’Sullivan surged back into the tie.
Breaks of 82 and 50 allowed O’Sullivan to immediately move back within two at 6-4. There were then three consecutive frames which lasted over 30 minutes, as the game moved into a tactical phase. Trump emerged with an 8-5 advantage.
The resilience of O’Sullivan then came to the fore as he claimed three on the bounce, including back-to-back century breaks of 130 and 134, to make it 8-8. Trump was first to move one from victory thanks to a contribution of 61, before O’Sullivan levelled to set up the thrilling finale in which he clinched the tie.
“I went out there with a different mindset tonight and I just felt relaxed. I was enjoying it and playing each frame and each ball as it came,” said O’Sullivan, who has now reached seven finals from the ten events he has contested this season; winning four of the previous six. “I didn’t even feel the drama. I know everyone was saying what a great match it was, but I didn’t really feel nervous at all. I just enjoyed it and once I got my mind right and played the balls on the table it was a different game from this afternoon.
“I’m not driven by records and I’m glad I’m not. You take the beauty out of the game if you do that, then it all becomes about statistics. I’d trade every ranking point that I have made and every bit of prize money for the experiences and the highs I have had from playing this game since I was a kid. There are very few people that have been the best in the world and the greatest at what they do. I feel like I am in that bracket. There are 8 billion people on this planet. How many can say they are the greatest at what they do? For me I have had the ultimate experience of being the king of my sport and I am still fighting and still punching, I’m proud of that.”