Sunday, 15 January 2012

Ronnie rises to Masters challenge

Ronnie O'Sullivan looked like he was right at home at Alexandra Palace as he scored an excellent victory in the curtain-raiser of this year's Masters.

His 6-4 win against defending champion Ding Junhui proves that when the conditions are right, he's still one of the best around.

Picture by Monique Limbos
A masterclass of long potting steered him through to the quarter-finals but in actual fact, it was having his head in the right place that made the difference.

The setting was perfect. He was on the big stage, playing in front of his kids and at home in London. Ronnie was in his comfort zone, and it brought the best out of him.

As he established a commanding 4-1 lead, he looked unstoppable. Ding showed great temperament and a steely determination to level at 4-4, albeit with the aid of a fluked red in frame six. The momentum had shifted but a content O'Sullivan took the last two frames to clinch a great win.

This continues an impressive record for Ronnie in this competition. He's now played in 19 tournaments and won his first round match 15 times.

On this form, you'd back him to go all the way. O'Sullivan has already appeared in nine Masters finals, winning four titles highlighting his glittering record at this prestigious tournament.

The Rocket has played some of his best snooker at this event and produced a fantastic century to wrap up this match too. This was the first hundred scored at Ally Pally since 1936, and also Ronnie's 50th in this fine tournament.

Ronnie has had his troubles. That means he comes into this tournament as the world number 16, the lowest ranked player in the competition. But he remains among the favourites to lift the trophy.

On today's display, it's easy to see why.

He has a class about his game that he's always capable of bringing to the table on the big occasion.

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