All About Cue with Dominic Dale | Episode 2 | What Cue Is Best For You?

Sensational Brecel Smashes Rocket

“No one else can play like that,” said Ronnie O’Sullivan after his hopes of an eighth Cazoo World Championship crown were ended by an astonishing seven frame burst from Luca Brecel, winning 13-10 to reach the semi-finals.

For once, snooker’s all-time greatest O’Sullivan was on the receiving end of a blistering display of attacking snooker. Brecel’s average shot time across the match was just 17.7 seconds as, seemingly unburdened by pressure or doubt, he allowed his remarkable natural ability to take over. The last seven frames took just 75 minutes as the Belgian ace rattled in a series of fluent breaks, thumping balls into pockets with confidence and accuracy. Brecel has won three ranking titles but this was perhaps his best ever performance.

The first player from mainland Europe to go this deep into snooker’s biggest tournament, the 28-year-old will now experience the one-table situation at the Crucible for the first time,  facing Anthony McGill or Si Jiahui over 33 frames on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Brecel did not win a match in his first five visits to Sheffield, but is now making up for that record.

A year ago, O’Sullivan equalled Stephen Hendry’s record of seven world titles, but despite a resounding 13-2 defeat of Hossein Vafaei in the second round this time, he was outplayed by Brecel, albeit making no more than a handful or errors in the last session. O’Sullivan has won two invitation titles this season but has failed to land a ranking title and will lose his world number one spot if Mark Allen reaches the final this week.

The opening frame today came down to the last two reds. O’Sullivan was trapped in a difficult snooker and handed his opponent the chance to clear and close to 10-7. Brecel then set sparks flying with breaks of 112, 64 and 72 to level at 10-10.

If Brecel’s fans were concerned that the interval might his affect his momentum, they were soon pacified. The last three frames took just 26 minutes and O’Sullivan potted just one ball, as Brecel added runs of 61, 78 and 63 to reach the 11th ranking event semi-final of his career.

“To win seven frames in a row against Ronnie is probably the best session I have played,” said ninth seed Brecel. “I was so composed for the whole match, I felt very calm, even at the end. It’s amazing to do that in the Crucible. It was like a dream because there was  big crowd, Stephen Hendry was in the commentary box, I was playing Ronnie and playing my best stuff. It doesn’t get any better than that!

“I struggled at the Crucible many times but it has all changed suddenly and I don’t know why. I feel so good here now and I have not struggled to get over the line in my three matches. If I wasn’t happy off the table then I wouldn’t be able to play like this.

“The attention in Belgium when I beat Mark Williams was unbelievable. Fans could follow it live online on newspaper websites. I don’t think many people expected me to win but I did, which is great for snooker in Belgium. I am feeling exhausted now, I need to feel fit to be able to play my next match, otherwise I will not be able to play at 12 seconds a shot. So I have to wait to see how I feel tomorrow, but if I feel good I will play the same game.”

O’Sullivan said: “Luca was phenomenal, brilliant, amazing. What a player, what a talent. I’ve never seen a talent like that before. No one plays like that, it’s impossible. That was confident, solid, assured. I don’t think he realises how talented he is, it’s very hard for you to see your own gift, other people see it. But he is one gifted snooker player. The way he gets through the ball, the art, the work he gets on the white. He plays with no inhibitions. I’m sure he gets nervous, but when you play like that you don’t really get nervous because it happens at such a good speed. It’s a lovely way to play snooker.

“He’s got a great attitude towards the game. He turns up plays, loves it, enjoys his life. Even if he doesn’t win it, it’s still great to have him in the game and we love watching him.”

On the other table, Mark Selby seized control in his blockbuster quarter-final clash with fellow four-time World Champion John Higgins to lead 9-5 heading into their concluding session this evening.

They came into this afternoon locked level at 4-4 after an opening session which had seen Selby rally from 4-1 down. The Leicester cueman continued with that momentum today.

Scotland’s Higgins crafted a run of 57 to take the lead in the first frame this afternoon, but Selby countered with 67 to steal and lead 5-4. Runs of 67 and 50 helped the Englishman take the next three frames and move 7-4 ahead.

Higgins stopped the rot by winning the 12th, but it was Selby who closed out the afternoon strongest with breaks of 72 and 100 to end 9-5 in front.