Ronnie O’Sullivan set a new record for career centuries with his 776th as he thrashed Marco Fu 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Dafabet Masters.
O’Sullivan equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of 775 career tons during his first round match against Ricky Walden, and is now out in front on his own. A packed crowd at Alexandra Palace rose to their feet to acclaim the snooker genius as he made the century he needed in the first frame.
The local favourite from Chigwell needed just 104 minutes to end the challenge of Hong Kong’s Fu and set up a meeting with Neil Robertson or Ali Carter on Saturday at 1pm (click here for ticket details). Defending champion O’Sullivan is chasing a sixth Masters crown – which would match another Hendry record – and a third title in a row having won the Champion of Champions and UK Championship. He will be hard to stop.
O’Sullivan’s break of 101 gave him the opening frame before Fu came from 56-0 down to steal the second, then a run of 67 saw O’Sullivan regain the lead. Fu had chances to make it 2-2 but couldn’t make them pay and O’Sullivan eventually took the fourth with a 32 clearance which included an excellent pot on the final black to a centre pocket. Fu never recovered from that blow and scored just 24 points in the remainder of the match as O’Sullivan reeled off the last three frames with top breaks of 85, 66 and 46.
“It’s a nice record to have,” said O’Sullivan. “I’m glad it was out of the way early today so I could focus on playing and winning the tournament. It has taken me 21 years to do it so it was nice to have a couple of minutes of clapping, but I didn’t want it to over-shadow what we were there to do, which was to play a match. To get to 1,000 centuries is definitely achievable and worth going for.
“I was pleased with my attitude today, I played every ball as if it counted, from start to finish. Even at 5-1 I wasn’t thinking it was over because Marco can win three or four frames in a row. Nicking the close frames can be more important than making big breaks, so it was massive to win the fourth and be 3-1 up at the interval.”
Asked whether he thought Hendry should enter the World Championship this year, O’Sullivan replied: “I don’t know how much he’s enjoying his life away from snooker. When he was playing it was all about winning, where for me it’s more about taking pleasure in my performance. If he’s not winning, will he be able to take that? I’m not sure. I told him that maybe he needs to change his perspective and just look at snooker as something to do. I said ‘who cares if you win, you’ve got seven world titles and you’re the biggest legend snooker has ever had.’ People just want to see him because he’s Stephen Hendry, even if he loses 4-0. It’s like when Maradona walks into the room – he’s always going to be Maradona.
“I think that change in perspective is what it’s going to take for him to want to play. But I think he misses being around the other players and competing in events. I’d love to see him play again and I think if he lowered his expectations then he would start winning, because he’s such a great player – the best I’ve ever seen. But it’s his decision, he’s got his own way of doing things and he seems happy.”