Snooker World Championships: Ronnie O'Sullivan prepares to defend his title as he rockets into final with a 17-7 victory over Barry Hawkins

O'Sullivan can rest on Saturday before the final where he will face the winner of Neil Robertson and Mark Selby's semi0final, which concludes today

Ronnie O'Sullivan can enjoy a leisurely Saturday after booking the chance to defend his world title with a day to spare.

The reigning champion concluded a 17-7 win over Barry Hawkins on Friday night, with a mesmerising four-frame run giving him the day off and sparing him the slated final session.

The five-time winner also beat Shaun Murphy in the quarters with a session left and, short of a second-round tussle with Joe Perry, has cruised to the final.

The 38-year-old is, by his own admission, a part-time player these days, but still continues to wow the Crucible audiences and will be the favourite against either Neil Robertson or Mark Selby when the best-of-35 final starts on Sunday.

"To have got such a comfortable result against Barry is great for me," O'Sullivan said on World Snooker's official website.

"I hadn't played for two months going into this tournament so I'd got a bit bored of practising, but that's because I didn't enter any tournaments so that's my own fault.

"As each match goes on you do feel like you get into it."

O'Sullivan has never lost a Sheffield final, winning his first in 2001 and then adding to it in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013.

The Essex man has previously spoken of the six and seven titles won by snooker greats Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry and, should he continue his perfect record in Crucible finals, he will be level with one of them.

"I've still got one more match to play so I can't afford to get all excited," he added.

"It's all about the final for me on Sunday and Monday now. I just want to enjoy my day off and get ready to play in what is our biggest tournament, competing in the final.

"I'm just buzzing to be playing and enjoying it. To get to three finals in a row having already won two - if you'd have told me that three years ago it would've never entered my thoughts that I could do it."

The world number one or three will face him, with Robertson and Selby locked in a gruelling clash which is unlikely to leave the victor feeling fresh ahead of Sunday.

Selby currently leads 9-7 as he chases his first title, with Robertson hoping to add to the 2010 one he won.

The duo will play on Saturday morning and evening, with tournament organisers having to fill the void left by O'Sullivan's early finish.

World Snooker has said there will be an exhibition match for ticket holders, with the raft of former players on the various commentary teams in place likely to be called upon.

PA

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