Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a superb display to thrash Joe Perry 6-1 and set up a mouth-watering meeting with Judd Trump in tomorrow’s 19.com Northern Ireland Open final in Belfast.
The clash with the Ace in the Pack will be a repeat of last year’s final, where Trump came through a 9-7 winner in a thrilling match.
If 36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan can get the better of Trump tomorrow, he will move ahead of Stephen Hendry and gain the outright record for most ranking titles won.
The on table rivalry between five-time World Champion O’Sullivan and Trump has become the sport’s ultimate heavyweight clash in recent years. They’ve met 21 times, with O’Sullivan holding an 11-10 advantage in the head-to-head.
O’Sullivan leads today’s opponent Perry in their head-to-head record by a much more substantial margin. After victory this evening he has now won 16 of their 18 professional meetings.
World number 15 Perry will now turn his attentions to the UK Championship, where a strong showing could clinch his place at January’s Masters, with the cut off to be in the top 16 and qualify coming at the end of the event.
Breaks of 58, 54 and 72 helped O’Sullivan stride into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session interval this evening. When they returned a further run of 90 moved him just a frame from victory.
Perry claimed the next frame to get on the scoreboard. However, O’Sullivan then wrapped up a one hour and ten minute win with a break of 71.
“Joe didn’t play his usual standard tonight. He made it quite easy for me. I didn’t play great, but I picked up the pieces. Sometimes that is what you’ve got to do. I’m pleased to be in the final,” said O’Sullivan. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I haven’t played in many tournaments this season. I’ve done alright in the ones I have played in. It is just nice to be in another final.
“I think they love their sport here. They love their snooker. I’m sure it will be a very good crowd. Hopefully it is a good occasion and hopefully we can put on a show for the fans who have paid their money to be here and that are watching on television.
“It is up to Judd (what he goes on to achieve). At the end of the day it is how long you want to be in the sport, how much you want to dedicate to it. I’ve dedicated all my life to it. That is what you have to do. I have talent, John Higgins has talent, Mark Williams has talent and Judd has talent. But if you don’t put the hours in and dedicate your life to it then it is easy to go off the boil.
“I’ve learned from Hendry. You have to be very disciplined. I wasn’t the most disciplined and I had to learn that side of it. I think Judd has been similar to me. He has had to learn that side of it. He is definitely the man to beat and he’s got age on his side.”