‘Mind-boggling’ Ronnie O’Sullivan races to World Grand Prix win over Ding Junhui

By Sports Desk January 20, 2024

Ronnie O’Sullivan laid on a “mind-boggling” masterclass as he booked his place in Sunday’s World Grand Prix final with a 6-1 win against China’s Ding Junhui.

Even by O’Sullivan’s standards, one week after sealing a record-extending Masters title, he produced a special display at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, which included four quickfire century breaks.

When he sank the final black to set up a meeting with three-time winner Judd Trump, the match was a little over 70 minutes long.

O’Sullivan made a superb start, making two centuries in the opening three frames to lead 2-1, with his potting close to perfection.

He opened with a break of 135 and, after Ding responded with a score of 85 to level it up at 1-1, O’Sullivan followed up with a 128.

He made a break of 88 in the fourth frame to open up a 3-1 lead, with all four frames before the interval taking just under 45 minutes.

Ding, who beat compatriot Zhang Anda 5-1 to book his semi-final place, was under pressure, but after being given a chance at the start of the fifth frame, he faltered when on 28.

O’Sullivan ruthlessly punished him, compiling a score of 90 to motor 4-1 ahead with an average shot time, up to the end of the fifth frame, of 14 seconds.

Ding erred on a tricky safety shot early in the sixth frame and O’Sullivan stepped in to rattle off his third century – 128 – to lead 5-1 after one hour and four minutes.

He pounced on another Ding mistake in frame seven and faultlessly cleared the table for a final break of 124.

Match commentator and former world champion Ken Doherty told ITV4 that it was the best session of snooker he had ever seen.

Doherty said: “He’s such an artist, such a genius. It’s artistic, poetic, it’s balletic. It’s like snooker from the gods without a shadow of a doubt.”

Co-commentator and former Masters champion Alan McManus added: “I’ve seen it and I don’t believe it.

“It was mind-boggling. It was actually one of those ‘I was there’ nights because frankly it cannot get any better that that.

“From the very start to the very end it was perfection.”

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