Snooker: Ronnie O'Sullivan defends world title against Barry Hawkins as if he'd never been away
Tuesday 07 May 2013
Ronnie O'Sullivan was the toast of Sheffield on Monday night as he beat Barry Hawkins 18-12 to become the first player for 17 years to make a successful defence of the World Championship.
The "Rocket" – who had taken almost a year out of the game – resumed with a commanding 15-10 lead for the last session of their best-of-35-frames final at snooker's showpiece tournament. And that meant the sport's box office star required only three more frames to secure an impressive fifth world title and the £250,000 prize.
O'Sullivan needed just over an hour to do that as he eased to victory against Hawkins, the world No 14, who produced a spirited performance in his first Crucible final. With victory O'Sullivan became the first player since Stephen Hendry, the seven-time world champion, in 1996 to make a successful world title defence.
"It's great to win it again, but I've really enjoyed it over the last few weeks," said O'Sullivan, who punched the air in delight after his victory.
"That's the hardest anyone has pushed me. I just hung in there. I just couldn't get him off me. My mood has been up and down like a whore's drawers, but I've had a great time coming back. I still love playing, but I do need other things to balance my life."
Hawkins won the opening frame of the afternoon, having returned 10-7 down, to reduce his arrears as he looked to mount a comeback. But O'Sullivan responded with breaks of 54 and 76 to restore his three-frame cushion and then moved four frames in front.
Hawkins missed a red to a corner pocket and O'Sullivan made a superb 55 clearance to pinch the frame on the final black. A break of 90 let Hawkins cut his lead to 12-9 before the mid-session interval, but O'Sullivan made a 133 break immediately after the resumption to maintain his dominance. And a 67 clearance put O'Sullivan five frames ahead for the first time as Hawkins' title hopes slipped.
The Ditton professional did pull back to 14-10, but O'Sullivan compiled another century, this time a 124 clearance, to finish a clear favourite to defend his title. That century, his sixth of the match, was the first time any player has compiled six centuries in a Crucible final in the 35 years it has been played at the iconic venue. Hendry, John Higgins and Matthew Stevens have all had five centuries in a world final, but O'Sullivan continues to set the benchmark.
Hawkins hit back with a fine 131 clearance in the first frame of the evening and then added a break of 66 to cut his arrears to three frames.
But O'Sullivan reeled off the next three frames with breaks of 77, 88 and 86 to complete a memorable comeback.
"I tried my hardest, but Ronnie's unbelievable," said Hawkins, who won £125,000. "I'm just glad I made some sort of game of it."
O'Sullivan threatened to quit again after this year's 17-day marathon, but his friend Jimmy White believes the unpredictable player will not give up. Six-time Crucible finalist White was the man who persuaded O'Sullivan to defend his title. "Ronnie will be back next year," said White. "I heard him turn round and say he loves snooker and that was music to my ears. He needs snooker and snooker needs him."
Rocket Ronnie: record-breaker
The last time a player made five tons in a Crucible final before O'Sullivan made six yesterday
O'Sullivan now has the most century breaks in Crucible history, one more than Stephen Hendry
Latest in Sport
Manchester United can learn lessons from the transfer template of rivals Manchester City
Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea top the list of the Premier League's most expensive squads
Cyprus vs Wales match report: Gareth Bale's bullet header has Welsh on brink of Euro 2016
Bayern Munich 'training camp' to supply refugees with food, footballs and German lessons
Anthony Martial: Manchester United's new signing received Patrice Evra's boots as a kid
- 1 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 4 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This children's clothing compan...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading manufacturer...
£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...