Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime performance to beat Mark Selby 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the ManBetX Welsh Open in Cardiff.
Victory for O’Sullivan crucially moves him into 16th position on the live one-year money list. That means that as things stand he is set to edge into the upcoming Players Championship. The top 16 at the end of next week’s Shoot Out will earn a spot.
Today’s win also enhances O’Sullivan’s head-to-head record in his momentous rivalry with Selby, which has included Masters, UK Championship and World Championship finals. The Rocket is now 15-10 ahead in contests between the pair.
Selby can reflect on his defeat with the knowledge that he still made Home Nations history this season. The Jester from Leicester became the first player to win two events in a single campaign, with victories at the English and Scottish Opens.
O’Sullivan produced spellbinding snooker to storm into a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session. He compiled breaks of 142, 95 and 85 to rapidly move to the verge of victory.
Selby kept himself in the tie by edging a narrow fifth frame. He was first in again in the next, but cruelly went in-off to afford O’Sullivan an opportunity to close out the match. He left Selby needing snookers, which he got. However, a second stroke of hard luck saw Selby go in-off in an attempt to develop the green. O’Sullivan made no mistake from there and secured victory.
O’Sullivan said: “I tried to take the game to Mark as much as I could and be prepared for a battle. It is always hard against Mark and he never makes it easy for you.
“I got off to a good start and managed to get amongst the balls and score some good breaks. I came out after the interval and it started to go itsy bitsy. I kept saying to myself that if I managed to find one good frame I should be fine.
“I enjoyed the match. It was tough and I haven’t faced players of Mark’s calibre regularly. It was a test for me to see where I was, so it was nice to come out on top today.”
O’Sullivan’s semi-final opponent will be Kyren Wilson, who recorded an impressive 5-0 whitewash victory against 18-time ranking event winner Neil Robertson.
The result acts as revenge for Wilson, who suffered a 6-4 defeat to Robertson in the semi-finals of last week’s World Grand Prix.
Defeat for Robertson ends a brilliant run of consecutive final appearances. He lifted the title at the European Masters and the World Grand Prix and was runner-up at the German Masters.
The evening action saw 2005 Crucible king Shaun Murphy defeat World Champion Judd Trump 5-3 to secure his spot in the last four.
It’s a second consecutive victory for Murphy against Trump, following a 6-3 win in the first round of the Masters in January.
He will face Chinese teenager Yan Bingtao in the semis. Yan beat four-time World Champion John Higgins 5-2 to secure his place.