Despite a spirited comeback from his heir apparent, Judd Trump, ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed his fifth UK Championship title in York this evening with a nerve jangling 10-9 victory. A clearly ‘pumped’ up but drained Ronnie had to draw on all the mental fortitude that has been instilled into him by psychologist Steve Peters to withstand the late charge by his younger opponent, in what ultimately proved to be a memorable final.
Trump has suffered in recent finals at the hands of O’Sullivan, losing to him only last month at the Champion of Champions’ event and also in the 2013 World Championship final. It seemed to be going the way of Ronnie once again as he started much the better to establish a commanding 5-1 advantage in the first session, before Trump pegged him back to 5-3 going into the evening’s frames in the best of nineteen match.
O’Sullivan came out with renewed vigour in the evening session to move into what looked to be an unassailable lead at 9-4 and must have been considering his victory speech at that point. Judd must have been reading a different script though, as he rallied and amazingly managed to pull himself back into the final to level the match at 9-9, thanks in no small part to two marvellous breaks of 120 and 127.
The man who many believe is the greatest there has ever been in the sport is a strong character these days and despite clearly feeling the pressure of relinquishing his sizeable lead, managed to draw on his not inconsiderable experience in the sport to stagger over the line. As the winning post approached in the deciding frame, a clearly much relieved O’Sullivan demonstrated his appreciation at holding on to win with a couple of celebratory fist pumps.
One wonders how many more stressful nights such as this that O’Sullivan will want to witness first hand before he finally calls time on his illustrious snooker career, but based on the evidence of this match one hopes that the ‘end’ will be later rather than sooner. The game needs his character (and that of his rival Judd Trump) to enhance its popularity in the British public’s psyche. Although Ronnie seemed to hope that they would avoid each other in their next tournament, the sporting world needs its great head to heads, and after this one the snooker world will be willing them on for more of the same.
O’Sullivan’s reward for winning the title was a not inconsiderable cheque for £150,000 and the big break prize of £44,000 to add on top, a slightly late but still well received present to celebrate his recent 39th birthday. He is at an age when most snooker players decide to disappear into the background, perhaps joining the long line of former stars in the commentary box, but for now at least his star shines as bright as ever and his appetite for re-writing the history books insatiable. #Celebrities