Snooker: O'Sullivan homes in on title but dreams of bricks and mortar

 

The Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan was forced to find top gear by Barry Hawkins in the final of the Betfair World Championship on Sunday.

But the "Rocket" returns on Monday with a welcome 10-7 lead after the opening two sessions of their best-of-35 frame showdown here in Sheffield.

O'Sullivan, the defending champion, is going for a fifth world title having never lost a final in Sheffield. This latest attempt has come after the 37-year-old took a year away from the sport to try and deal with personal issues. He was installed as overwhelming favourite against the 34-year-old Hawkins, who, before this year, had never got past the last 16 in seven attempts.

Victory for Hawkins today would represent the biggest shock in a world final since Joe Johnson toppled Steve Davis, the six-time winner, 27 years ago. But the world No 14 knocked out world No 1 Mark Selby and the much-fancied Ding Junhui in earlier rounds – before seeing off Ricky Walden in the semi-finals.

And he showed that reaching the showpiece was no fluke by recovering after an early O'Sullivan onslaught in the first session.

O'Sullivan, ranked No 28 in the world after his 12 months off, rattled in early breaks of 74 and 92 as he went chasing the £250,000 first prize. But Hawkins rallied with runs of 88 and 81 to level before moving ahead at 3-2, meaning O'Sullivan was behind in a match for the first time at this year's event.

O'Sullivan took up the challenge and with breaks of 76, 113 and 100 brought his tally of centuries at the Crucible to 127 – equalling Stephen Hendry's record – to establish a 5-3 lead. He moved 7-5 up at the interval, but Hawkins hit back with runs of 83 and 133 to level matters and left an intriguing finish to the evening session.

Successive centuries – 103 and 106 – took O'Sullivan 9-7 ahead and then he pinched the last frame of the session to keep himself favourite to defend his crown.

Win or lose, O'Sullivan has threatened to quit again after this year's final. The four-time world champion has revealed his next step is likely to be building himself a career in property.

"My dream would probably be [to be] a property developer," said O'Sullivan. "I love Homes Under the Hammer. I've had a taste of it as well. I used to go around with a mate and we used to buy a lot of stuff.

"I used to get bored so he'd say, 'I'll teach you the property game', so I've got a rough idea about it. But snooker was my game so I couldn't get too involved."

O'Sullivan is a clear favourite to win this year's final. But despite wiping the floor with the field after a 12-month break, O'Sullivan is still making plans outside of the sport.

"I don't want to do something just for the money, for the celebrity status, like Big Brother or something like that," added O'Sullivan. "I love the show but putting myself through it, I couldn't do it.

"I've been to a couple of property auctions. My mate said to me: 'It's a good day out. We'll have a laugh.' I've never bought at one. Apparently Gary Neville goes to them. It was in London, a big one. It was out of my league. I don't know how he does it really, he must be doing all right for himself.

"I know that I need an outlet. Snooker's not going to go on forever and having that year out made me realise it was my job. But I don't want to find myself trapped in a sport that I know is going to end one day and find myself in the position that I was for the last 12 months.

"It was a bit of a reality check and that's why I'm thankful for what snooker has given to me. But I've got some good friends and they want to help me set myself up so that I don't have to rely on snooker so much."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory