Snooker: O'Sullivan steamrollers his way towards final

 

Ronnie O'Sullivan looked every inch the champion as he reeled off six straight frames against Matthew Stevens in a masterclass yesterday to take one step to the World Championship final at the Crucible.

Seeking a fourth title in Sheffield, O'Sullivan surged 11-5 clear in the second semi-final on the back of a stunning session. Breaks of 61, 62, 110, 98, 90 and 113 underlined the form which has seen him overcome three former world champions already.

Peter Ebdon, Mark Williams and Neil Robertson had no answer to O'Sullivan's brilliance in the earlier rounds, and although Stevens was briefly level, having started 5-3 in arrears, trouble soon began to mount for the Welshman. The 34-year-old knew there was the potential for O'Sullivan to perform magically, having witnessed the punishment meted out to Williams last Sunday.

Stevens came out playing purposefully and a run to 60 gave him the opening frame, before he raised the bar with a terrific clearance of 63 in the next, after O'Sullivan had led 62-0. Showing composure under intense pressure, he cut in a difficult pink before firing in the black to take the frame by a point.

A 62 from O'Sullivan restored the three-time champion's lead, and when Stevens played a poor safety in the next frame, in went the first century break.

The punishment was relentless. Left a long red, O'Sullivan drilled in and cleared the table. It took several bites to bring up the 10-5 lead, but just one to add another frame, the eighth century of O'Sullivan's championship.

In the other semi-final, 2008 runner-up Ali Carter turned a 5-3 overnight lead into a 10-6 cushion ahead of the evening session with Stephen Maguire, having been pegged to 5-5.

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