Ronnie O’Sullivan won a dramatic last frame of the session on a re-spotted black to open up a 10-6 lead over John Higgins in their Betfred World Championship semi-final.
The Rocket is aiming to make history this year, by securing a record equalling seventh Crucible crown to match Stephen Hendry’s tally. O’Sullivan, who has 38-ranking titles to his name, has captured almost every other meaningful record in the sport. A seventh victory at the Theatre of Dreams would undoubtedly be one of the highlights of his glittering career.
Higgins is hunting for a fifth World Championship title. The Scot last claimed the sport’s biggest prize 11 years ago at the 2011 World Championship. He has been runner-up on three occasions since then, in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
O’Sullivan hit the front for the first time in the match, after a 73 break in the opening frame of the afternoon put him 5-4 up. However, 31-time ranking event winner Higgins replied by taking two on the bounce to lead 6-5. The Rocket then crafted a contribution of 99 to restore parity at 6-6 heading in for the interval.
To that point Higgins had been utilising his excellent matchplay ability to stay with the more fluent O’Sullivan. The Wishaw cueman is yet to register a break over 58 in the match, while O’Sullivan has made two centuries and has a pot success rate of 94%. When play resumed O’Sullivan began to capitalise on his heavier scoring and a break of 91 gave him the 13th frame.
Higgins had the first chance in the next, but broke down on 38. O’Sullivan got himself back in the frame with a break of 55 and it came down to the colours. Higgins spurned a chance on a long range green and O’Sullivan pounced to make it 8-6. He then extended his lead to three thanks to a run of 70.
The session ended with classic piece of Crucible drama. Higgins again failed to capitalise on the first chance after missing a black with three reds left on a break of 53. That left O’Sullivan 51 behind with 51 on. After an initial run of eight, he produced a sensational clearance of 43 to force a re-spot. It went his way and he struck a crucial blow to end 10-6 up.
They return for the third session of this best of 33 encounter tomorrow morning at 10am.