Ronnie O’Sullivan came from 4-1 down to beat Stuart Bingham 6-5 and reach the final of the Coral UK Championship, staying on course for his fifth UK title.
O’Sullivan showed patience to battle back from three frames behind, and ruthlessness at the business end of the match as he booked his place in UK final for the first time in seven years.
He will face Judd Trump or Stephen Maguire over 19 frames on Sunday with the winner to take home the trophy and £150,000. The Rocket is bidding for his 15th Triple Crown event having won five World and five Masters titles.
O’Sullivan has started several matches slowly this week and Bingham capitalised on that today. The Basildon-based potter clinched the opening two frames with runs of 66 and 49 although O’Sullivan did win the next on the colours.
Breaks of 73 and 137 put Bingham three clear at 4-1 but the momentum then swung towards O’Sullivan as he quickly fired in runs of 62, 68 and 67 to draw level at 4-4.
Bingham stopped the rot with a 53 break in frame nine to go back in front but O’Sullivan hit back again with a brilliant 117 to force the decider.
Bingham went for a long-range red and narrowly missed it, then O’Sullivan made 34 before running out of position. After a brief safety exchange, O’Sullivan went boldly for a mid-range red to a top corner, slotted it home and went on to make 94 to seal the win.
“He gave me a good hiding in the first five frames, and I couldn’t compete to be honest,” said O’Sullivan, who turned 39 yesterday.
“I thought if he keeps playing like that it was 6-1 all day long, I was lucky to get a frame. He outfoxed me, out-potted me, out-scored me and he just looked so comfortable around the table. I got away with that one and got lucky.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to have got through and delighted to be playing in the final but sometimes you can be masking a cut with a plaster, when I’m wondering why was I pushed around too easily in the first five frames. I can only put it down to Stuart playing lots and lots of tournaments, making him so match sharp.
“If I play in the final like I did in the last three or four frames then I’ll be alright, but what we’re talking about here is consistency. I know I’m capable of that but being capable and doing that at will are two different things.
“There’s a trade-off between playing a lot and not playing as much. I can’t be in my little comfort zone at home, going running around the forest and going to the gym and chilling out if I expect to have a great game. You’ve got to make a choice – you either dig in and play more tournaments and get your rewards or just have to pay the price sometimes. I am being very ultra-critical but I’ve always been like that.”
Bingham said: “I think the turnaround came when I actually thought about the final. It’s not every day you get the chance to make it to the UK Championship final and I just lost my timing for a few frames.
“I didn’t get a chance in the last frame. He broke off and left me the long red and that was really close and from there he’s made a 30-odd. I missed a safety shot and to be fair he took the bull by the horns and won the match so fair play to him.”