Ronnie O’Sullivan completed an emphatic 13-4 victory over Mark Allen to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the 20th time, beating the record of 19 he had previously shared with Stephen Hendry.
Allen could have been a tough second round draw for O’Sullivan, but the world number one dominated throughout and looked close to his best as he rattled in two centuries and eight more breaks over 50. He has now won 71 matches at the Crucible, more than any other player.
The Rocket faces another test against a six-time ranking event winner, Stephen Maguire, on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Having won the title in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2020, O’Sullivan is just one away from Hendry’s most coveted record of seven crowns.
Most matches won at the Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan 71
Stephen Hendry 70
John Higgins 61
Steve Davis 60
Jimmy White 50
Having broken the back of the contest in the first two sessions by taking a 12-4 lead, making breaks of 87, 131, 69, 96, 57, 93, 67, 88, 53 and 100, O’Sullivan soon wrapped up the match this afternoon, winning the first frame in three scoring visits.
“In these long matches you try and do as well as you can in each session and try not look for the finish line because it’s a long way off,” said 46-year-old O’Sullivan, winner of 38 ranking titles. “I try to enjoy it and just relish every moment. I’ve had years of practice, years of dedication, just trying to be the best version of myself that I can be.
“You can make it look easy but it’s certainly never easy. When you sign up for the job, part of it is going to get tough and there are going to be other great players with big hearts and big desires in your way, and you have to overcome that. Even when I won it in 2012 and I just steamrolled everyone, it still wasn’t easy.
“I could probably not play in this event and not play the Masters and still have a great life. But I think I owe it to myself, I owe it to the snooker fans, I have been given a gift and a talent and I have to try and use it as much as I can. It’s not going to last forever so I just try and enjoy it as much as I can.”
Looking ahead to his next match, O’Sullivan added: “Maguire is a brilliant player and should have been World Champion, he has a World Champion game and he is still playing a very good level of snooker. It was only two years ago he was tearing everyone apart in the Tour Championship. He’s a class player and another tough match.”
Allen said: “Coming back at 12-4 was not a lot of fun to be honest. I have never had to experience that before. I have never given up in my life but mentally I had nothing left today, which is probably understandable given how poor I was yesterday.
“Sometimes when you play Ronnie you don’t get a shot, you don’t see a ball. He pots all the long ones and scores heavily, and you go away sometimes thinking ‘am I a snooker player?’
“I know I have the game to win any tournament I enter but I just haven’t found that secret recipe for Sheffield yet.”
On the other table, 2019 Crucible king Judd Trump finished his opening session against Anthony McGill tied at 4-4.
The first three frames lasted 90 minutes in total and neither player made a break over 30, McGill taking two of them. The Scot, who reached the semi-finals in 2020, then made a 129 to lead 3-1.
World number four Trump hit back after the interval, winning three consecutive frames with a top run of 103 to go 4-3 ahead. But a break of 68 from McGill in the last frame of the session leaves them all square overnight.
They return at 2.30pm on Sunday for eight more frames.