Ronnie O’Sullivan maintained his bid for a third title of the season by beating Graeme Dott 4-1 to reach the semi-finals of the 888.com World Grand Prix in Llandudno.
O’Sullivan won the Champion of Champions and UK Championship before Christmas and is now just two wins away from the £100,000 top prize at Venue Cymru. The Rocket faces Stuart Bingham tomorrow evening for a place in the final.
After sharing the first two frames against Dott, O’Sullivan went 2-1 up with a break of 58. He opened the fourth with a run of 51, then former World Champion Dott had a chance to clear but missed a tricky final green on 51. The Scot later missed a long blue and O’Sullivan potted blue and pink to extend his lead. That proved the crucial moment as Chigwell’s O’Sullivan secured victory in the next with a top run of 50.
“It’s always pleasing to get a win against a player of Graeme’s calibre, even though we both didn’t perform to the standard we know we’re capable of,” said five-time World Champion O’Sullivan. “Any win against Graeme is a good win.
“Tonight I felt a little disappointed, a little bit flat because you want to give the crowd something to get excited up about. In my last match I thought I’d done that, but in this match, we both were below par.
“Stuart Bingham played some of the best snooker anyone’s played against me in the UK Championship, the semi-final (when O’Sullivan won 6-5). I’m in for a tough match. If I can play a bit better than that, I can win the game. But if I play like I did tonight, he’ll probably whitewash me.
“That match was a bit of a step backwards, compared to how I played in my second match. Form can turn around, you can only get better I suppose.”
Judd Trump booked his place in the last four with a dramatic 4-3 win over Mark Williams, which went down to the final black. Trump meets Martin Gould in the semis tomorrow afternoon, and tonight’s results raise the possibility of a Trump v O’Sullivan final, which would be a repeat of the Champion of Champions and UK Championship.
Williams, who turns 40 tomorrow, won the first frame with a 63 then Trump levelled with a 73. Frame three came down to the colours and Trump missed a simple pink to a centre pocket, allowing his opponent to pot pink and black to go 2-1 up. Trump hit back to win the next two frames to lead 3-2, then Williams potted brown and blue in the sixth to force the decider.
Both players had chances – Trump missing a tricky red at 36-8, then Williams might have cleared up but rattled a difficult final brown to a baulk corner. A safety battle on the blue ensued, and when Williams went for a double to centre but left it over the pocket, it proved his last shot. Trump potted blue, pink and black before punching the air with joy.
“I’m delighted to get through in the end,” said Australian Goldfields Open champion Trump. “It was a really close game. In the end I got the run of the balls you need. To win tournaments like this, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck. I potted a good blue, pink and black. I was very edgy on the black, but I’m just pleased to get through.
“It was a relief because he’s beaten me a couple of times recently and it was looking like he’d do it again. I wasn’t as relaxed today as I was for the first couple of games.
“Me and Martin Gould both like to go for our shots. Martin’s played some really good snooker this week so it’s a difficult game. I always enjoy playing him because he attacks like me, and it’ll just be a free flowing game.”