RONNIE O’Sullivan’s two century breaks at the Masters on Tuesday saw him make some more snooker history – and there could be more to come yet.
The Rocket’s two tons in a 6-4 win over Ricky Walden at Alexandra Palace saw him equal the now retired Stephen Hendry’s all-time career record of 775 centuries.
And the final flourish of 116 was set up with an outrageous fluke on the final yellow after Walden had bravely fought back from 5-1 down.
O’Sullivan was immediately thrust into the BBC studio, where he was placed alongside Hendry, who had analysed the feat on his 46th birthday.
Defending champion O’Sullivan also played through pain in reaching the quarter-finals, putting his ankle brace back on at the interval to support the foot he broke in November.
O’Sullivan, who also had breaks of 77, 91, 100 and 66, will now face Marco Fu for a place in the last four. He said: “Stephen has had a laugh and a joke with me about it afterwards there.
“He doesn’t give much away, that’s what made him so good - but I think he is really satisfied with what he did in the game and if people beat his records he thinks ‘fair play’.
“I wanted to get that century at the end for the crowd, it has been on my mind since I got close.
“Everyone has got their earpieces in and the commentators didn’t stop mentioning it so when the yellow goes in and I finish perfect on the green they went nuts.
“It was really a good moment and I enjoyed it.
“To be honest I could have had the record a lot earlier in the match – and in the end I have got it with the help of a fluked yellow.
“My foot was sore earlier in the match, it was the first time I had played without the ankle brace after I broke it – but I put it back on at the interval and that was better.
“There is pressure with the expectations, this is my home event, I am the defending champion, and I arrived after winning the last two big titles this season.
Hendry has already seen O’Sullivan overhaul his tally of 147 maximum breaks, with his former rival up to 13 now next to the Scot’s 11.
And his record of seven world titles is likely to come under intense pressure in the next few years with the 39-year-old O’Sullivan standing on five.
Hendry said: “Hopefully I am not commentating on the next record of mine he breaks! But this one has been coming for a while.”
Walden put up a much better fight than last year against O’Sullivan – when he lost 6-0 at the Masters in 58 minutes with 556 unanswered points.
He said: “I am a bit disappointed overall. I missed a few chances out there, and you have got to be at your best against Ronnie.
“The record is a great achievement from a great player, he’s the man here and of course he can go on and win it again.”
Photograph by Monique Limbos