Mark Davis reached the final of a ranking event for the first time, 27 years after turning professional, with a shock 6-1 hammering of Ronnie O’Sullivan at the BetVictor English Open.
Having lost in five previous ranking semi-finals, 46-year-old Davis could have been forgiven for thinking he might never make it to a final. But he produced one of the best performances of his career to send defending champion O’Sullivan crashing out.
Davis has travelled the world since 1991, playing in over 100 ranking tournaments across the planet, and has now reached his first final in Crawley, just 45 minutes away from his home in Hastings. He will face Stuart Bingham over 17 frames on Sunday for the Steve Davis Trophy and a top prize of £70,000. Victory would make Davis the oldest winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy won the 1989 Classic.
O’Sullivan made errors throughout the contest as he slipped to his first defeat of the season, having won four matches to take the Shanghai Masters title last month and five more to reach the semi-finals this week.
World number 45 Davis dominated the opening frame, then O’Sullivan made it 1-1 with a break of 56, which turned out to be his highest of the match. Runs of 102, 93, 84 and 65 gave Davis four frames in a row as he surged 5-1 ahead. He trailed by 27 points in frame seven, but made 52 before playing safe, and he later trapped O’Sullivan in a tough snooker which created the chance to seal the result.
“It’s amazing to get to my first final, I can’t believe it,” said Davis, who was watched by son Jack and daughter Millie. “A few weeks ago I was struggling with my game. I was practising with Jimmy Robertson and I just said ‘I can’t play any more’ and walked out of the club. I never usually do that but it wasn’t good. But I have kept working at it and my game has turned around.
“Perhaps subconsciously it has given me a lift, playing in front of friends and family this week. I had a lot of support out there tonight. I have had a tough draw this week but if I play well I can give anyone a game. I’ll just try to keep the same thoughts and enjoy the match tomorrow. It would mean everything to win it, but that is still a million miles away.”
O’Sullivan said: “He played well and I didn’t put up much of a fight, I was lucky to get a frame. I was outplayed.”