Snooker: Genius O'Sullivan cruises to world title

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The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan eased to an 18-8 victory over Graeme Dott in the Embassy World Championship final here last night to win his second world title and the 15th ranking event of his tumultuous career.

Ronnie O'Sullivan eased to an 18-8 victory over Graeme Dott in the Embassy World Championship final here last night to win his second world title and the 15th ranking event of his tumultuous career.

"I never ever thought that I wasn't going to win it," he said when asked if doubts had crept in after falling 5-0 behind during Sunday's first session. "It was a good performance [overall]. My last three matches have been comfortable. I feel ready to go again to be honest. I know I can get better. There's room for improvement."

Entering last night's final session with a 16-8 lead, O'Sullivan needed only two of the possible 11 frames for victory. To cacophonous cheers, he reeled them off in little more than time than it had taken a pre-session streaker to dash around the table and be hauled away by the security guards.

After the triumph, the mood switched briefly from joy to something rather more sombre. Shades of dark and light have long been a feature in the life of The Rocket and they flickered again as he dedicated his title to his father, Ronnie Snr, who is serving life in prison for murder. "That one's for him," he said. "It was emotional during the match, sitting there thinking of him in his cell. They bang them up early on Bank Holidays."

Dott, a 200-1 outsider at the start of the tournament, brought more levity to the post-match press conference. "I wasn't getting carried away," the Glaswegian said of how he felt at 5-0 up. "I'd have got carried away if it was first to six."

And what had he learnt here? "That Ronnie is phenomenally good."

Indeed he is. At times in the past two weeks, this ambidextrous robot in an Alice band has played so flawlessly with both hands, changing at will as the situation has required, that he has made his game look effortless. That is his genius.

If, against Dott, he did not quite reproduce the coruscating form of the quarter-finals (when Anthony Hamilton was beaten 13-3) and semi-finals (when the seven-times former champion Stephen Hendry was thrashed 17-4), he did enough to show that he is the most naturally gifted player in the world by a margin. From 5-0 down he won 18 of the next 21 frames.

Hanging in there is one of Dott's traits. Scaling mountains is not. The bottom fell out of his championship challenge swiftly yesterday, missing reds in the first two frames to let O'Sullivan to increase a 9-7 overnight lead to 11-7. Frame 19 was a curiosity, a blaze of defiance. O'Sullivan snookered himself and gave away 12 points in fouls. When he eventually hit the target green, he smiled and waved a fist. Dott missed the next red. O'Sullivan potted a red but missed the black. Dott came in, ice in his veins, and cleared with 106, the biggest break of the final.

Game on: 11-8. An excitable radio reporter in the press room here yelled to his listeners: "Amazing! The Scot Dott has stopped the rot!"

He hadn't, of course.Dott always knew he would probably be going home without a title, for about the 80th time in 10 years as a pro. Before this tournament, he had only ever made it to two finals, and had lost both.

O'Sullivan has now twice won the most prized, yesterday's win adding to 2001's against John Higgins.

Whenever O'Sullivan went to the table in this showdown, it was likely he would rack up points and retreat. Dott's breaks were stealthier, always fragile affairs.

A nerve-jangling break of 29 in the 20th frame was a case in point. It ended with an attempted black being hit with such force that it jumped on to the wooden rim of the table, ran along for a little way, and fell off. So did Dott, metaphorically. O'Sullivan was 30-11 down at the time but made a break of 65 for 12-8.

The next frame saw a break of 37 by Dott to go 43-0 ahead. O'Sullivan came to the table needing to slide a missable red down the rail to score. He did, and made a break of 85 to clear up and take a 13-8 lead. The next five also went his way.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (Sheffield) FINAL: R O'Sullivan (Eng) bt G Dott (Sco) 18-8 (Frame scores: O'Sullivan first: 34-71, 9-77, 0-108, 0-97, 0-61, 100 (100 break)-0, 63-17, 87-0, 87-0, 0-59, 64-47, 78-0, 0-87, 68-48, 68-1, 69-0, 71-1, 85-0, 2-119 (106 break), 76-30, 85-43, 69-8, 91-44, 72-13, 92-8, 88-16).