Snooker: Ronnie O'Sullivan and Judd Trump level after first session in their World Championship semi-final

O'Sullivan took a 4-1 lead before being pegged back

Time will tell whether Ronnie O'Sullivan carries out his latest threat to quit snooker but if he is to walk away then sessions such as today's opener to his Betfair World Championship semi-final against Judd Trump are to be savoured.

The four-time champion led 4-1 in an absorbing contest, before Trump, the natural heir to O'Sullivan as the sport's great crowd-pleaser, rattled off three frames in a row to draw level.

So they will resume tomorrow, for morning and evening sessions, at four frames each in the race to 17, their target for a place in the final.

O'Sullivan fired in breaks of 65, 75 and 89 on his way to the three-frame cushion, and looked then a strong favourite to secure an overnight lead.

But 23-year-old Trump, who said prior to the match that he would not be scared of O'Sullivan, proved good to his word as he gutsily fought back.

He seemed down and out in frame seven when O'Sullivan built a handsome lead after a break of 56, which was most noteworthy for the sublime shot that kept it going on 36.

Faced with a difficult positional shot on the pink, with the reds awkward, he screwed the cue ball off the colour and swung it around three cushions and into a cluster of four reds on the top cushion. It elicited a handy split, but O'Sullivan could not convert the break into a frame-winning clearance.

Trump got back to the table with an outstanding long penultimate red, laid a smart snooker behind the green and forced a seven-point foul. Trump drilled a red to the middle pocket and made it count by clearing to the pink for 26 to snatch the frame.

Buoyed by that, Trump fired in 72 in the final frame of the session to end on a high.

O'Sullivan last night claimed this would be his final World Championship.

"This is my last farewell, it's my swan song. I'm happy; I'm done," said the 37-year-old.

"I didn't know what was going to happen here but I've made a little bit of money now so I can go and pay the school fees now for the next two years.

"But really I don't think snooker is for me."

O'Sullivan has repeatedly floated the prospect of retirement during his career, and bookmakers already make him odds on to play at the Crucible next year.

The scepticism is understandable, and six-time world champion Steve Davis believes O'Sullivan's remarks could be considered "disrespectful".

Davis, speaking to the BBC, said today: "We know full well that Ronnie O'Sullivan's interviews are a bit like the British weather: they're changeable.

"But there's a dilemma for the snooker fan. They love what comes off the end of his cue; they sometimes hate what comes out of his mouth because it is sometimes disrespectful to snooker.

"The question to ask for every snooker fan is: 'Is it better for Judd Trump to win this match rather than Ronnie O'Sullivan even though Ronnie is such a breath of fresh air when he plays great?'

"It's a tough question to ask. If he's saying he's not going to play on the table and that's true, what use is he to the future of snooker?

"We'd love Ronnie O'Sullivan to be playing more snooker, not less."

Dennis Taylor, world champion in 1985, believes that rather than walk away entirely, O'Sullivan should consider entering just the World Championship every year.

And he believes he could better Stephen Hendry's record of seven world titles by doing so.

Taylor also suspects O'Sullivan may have been using kidology ahead of the crunch clash with Trump. What he achieved with his revelations last night was to take all the attention away from showman Trump.

Taylor told Press Association Sport: "Ronnie's said this all before and you have to take it with a pinch of salt sometimes. He loves playing the game still as you can tell by the way he started against Judd.

"There'd be nothing wrong with him winning the World Championship every year and playing in nothing else.

"And then when he's overtaken Stephen Hendry I'll say he's the greatest player that's ever picked a cue up, so maybe that's what he's going to do.

"You never know with Ronnie, maybe it's a little bit of psychology. You never know what's going on in the brain of a genius."

Taylor suspects that O'Sullivan's departure from the tour would be considered no great loss by his fellow players.

"He'd be sorely missed by some but not by the players. We had 10 different winners this season with Ronnie not playing so they won't mind if Ronnie doesn't want to play," Taylor said.

"It means more money, more titles for them. I'd be surprised if he does finish but you never ever know with the Rocket."

PA

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup