A RAMPANT Ronnie O’Sullivan raced into the Dafabet World Championship semi-finals by beating Shaun Murphy 13-3 with a session to spare at the Crucible.
Defending and five-time champion O’Sullivan incredibly won 13 of the last 14 frames against former champion Murphy in Sheffield in a devastating display.
From the moment the 38-year-old O’Sullivan got a snooker to stop Murphy going 3-0 up it was one-way traffic, as a combination of brilliance from one man and errors from the other created a perfect storm engulfing the Magician.
And O’Sullivan, going for a hat-trick of world titles and a sixth in all that would match the haul of Steve Davis did it all despite changing the tip of his cue between sessions.
The match might have been a lot closer – but the moment O’Sullivan came out of the first session with a 6-2 lead that should have belonged to Murphy, there was only one outcome.
And O’Sullivan also shrugged off a major scoreboard malfunction that kept both players awkwardly waiting around on their return from the mid-session interval.
O’Sullivan, who will now take on last year’s final opponent Barry Hawkins, said: “I had to change the tip on my cue on Tuesday night after the first session, that was a new one today.
“You want to get comfortable with it. It is one of the bug-bears of being a snooker player, no matter how well you are playing you are not 100 per cent confident.
“I got off to a dodgy start against Shaun and I could easily have been 3-0 or 4-0 down in that match. I got a bit lucky to be level at 2-2.
“But then after that I kept getting let in quite easily, I didn’t really have to fight for my chances and just fed off Shaun’s errors. He let me off the hook a bit.
“It doesn’t bother me if I haven’t had to play my best, I had a very tough match against Joe Perry and you don’t want too many like that.”
Murphy said: “We are blessed and lucky to be in the era of Ronnie, witnessing someone who is that good, and it is very, very difficult to play against him.
“You feel as if you are taking part on his table, and I didn’t cope with it very well. I started really well – shame it wasn’t best of three.
“I let him off the hook. Momentum can change very quickly, I made between 13 and 20 fatal errors and at this very top level against Ronnie you are going home.
“You sit there and plan what you are going watch on TV this evening, and I have a list as long as my arm of things I have to work on. But I had chances and am sorry I didn’t make more of a fight of it.
“He is the most naturally gifted player of all time, and the goals of equalling Steve Davis’s record and Stephen Hendry’s record of world titles spur him on.
“I felt the pressure, it was a huge match at the World Championships against the champion – and we have all got to be more clinical and raise the bar.”
Photographs by Monique Limbos