Ronnie O’Sullivan is through to the semi-finals of the Coral UK Championship for the first time in five years, following a hard-earned 6-4 win over Anthony McGill.
By Mark Rawlinson
O’Sullivan, bidding for back-to-back titles having won the Champion of Champions last month, will now meet Stuart Bingham in Saturday’s semis. The Rocket didn’t reach the heights of last night’s maximum break, but he did enough to stay on course for the £150,000 top prize.
Young Scot McGill beat four-time World Champion John Higgins on Wednesday and put O’Sullivan on the back foot early on, as he won the first two frames.
He made runs of 31 and 35 to clinch the opener before a break of 55 in the second put him 2-0 ahead. O’Sullivan managed to level proceedings at the interval, with a break of 98 in the fourth before taking the lead for the first time, thanks to a 125 in the fifth.
The next two were shared to leave the Rocket 4-3 ahead but McGill then missed a guilt-edged chance to level the scores. He hit the final green too thick, leaving it over the pocket which allowed O’Sullivan to go 5-3 up.
McGill responded well with a great run of 103 in frame nine but O’Sullivan only needed one chance to clinch frame ten, as he coolly slotted in a 97 break and with it the match.
“It was a tough game,” said O’Sullivan, who celebrates his 39th birthday today. “He got off to a good start and I managed to peg him back. He’s missed a couple of game balls there and I feel like he was the better player today even though I scored a few big breaks. I felt like he was more ready to win that match than me – I think it was just experience that got me through.
“I felt like there were so many close frames that could’ve gone either way. My type of game is to dominate and win frames in one visit and I just felt that I wasn’t allowed to do that. He kept me in my place a lot of the time so it was important for me to win that last frame in one visit.
“What a great player and character Anthony is. He’s a fantastic ambassador for snooker. He’s my type of character, he loves the game and he’s a really lovely boy – I’m a fan!
“I’d definitely share anything that he needed – if I could help him I would. He’s going to be around for a long time anyway whether he picks my brains or not. I think it’s just a matter of time with Anthony before he starts winning tournaments.”
O’Sullivan will face Bingham for a second year in a row in York, as the Essex-man pulled off a great comeback from 5-3 down to beat Graeme Dott 6-5.
Dott, who beat defending champion Neil Robertson in the last round to get to this stage, knocked in two runs of 68 and a 92 on his way to going 4-1 up.
Bingham closed to 4-3, with a 108 break in in frame seven but breaks of 54 and 65 put Scotland’s Dott one frame away from victory. However Shanghai Masters champion Bingham won the next two to force the decider which he won in style, with a 103 century break.
Bingham beat O’Sullivan at the quarter-final stage here last year and hopes for a repeat result.
“I just hung in there really,” said world number nine Bingham. “At 4-1 down I thought it was just going to be one of those days. Anything that could go wrong was going wrong and it just wasn’t happening. I managed to pinch one to 4-2 and I thought it’s still not over.
“I sat in my chair at 5-5 and I thought how am I level? I felt good but just a bit spaced out today – I don’t know why.
“Apart from one match, I’ve been on the table next to Ronnie in every game and he seems to be missing a few early doors. You’ve got to punish him. I’ve got to produce a bit better to have any chance against him.”