Paul Hunter should copyright his "Plan B" after it did the trick again on Sunday night in a stirring Masters final against Ronnie O'Sullivan.
Three times now Hunter has won the Wembley crown in the last four years, and each time he has needed some interval inspiration - and each time his fiancée, Lyndsey Fell, was the catalyst. "She's good at what she does," said the 25-year-old Yorkshireman, who escaped family and friends at the interval to join her at his hotel. "And of course we put Plan B into operation," he added after collecting a £100,000 first prize in front of 2,600 spectators.
When O'Sullivan led 6-2 after the first session, Hunter was in need of inspiration. But the half-time break appeared to have failed when O'Sullivan cruised into a 7-2 lead. However, slowly the match began to turn. Even at 9-8, Hunter would not lie down and he captured two cagey frames to snatch the trophy. In total, he knocked in five century breaks as he repeated the 10-9 scoreline he achieved against Fergal O'Brien in 2001 and Mark Williams 12 months later. "I think this win tops the other two," Hunter said. "It was a lot to ask when I went so far behind. But I just tried to concentrate and forget about Ronnie."
O'Sullivan did not exactly finish empty-handed after one of snooker's most memorable finals which some 3.7m BBC viewers stayed up past midnight to witness. He collected a £50,000 runners-up prize and another £10,000 for his highest break of 138 against Jimmy White in the semi-finals.
O'Sullivan, who won a final-frame decider against Davis to win the Welsh Open two weeks ago, said: "You have got to take your hat off to Paul, he could easily have thrown in the towel. But it was a good match to be involved in and life goes on. I've only lost a game of snooker; I could easily be in Iraq."
UK MASTERS (Wembley Conference Centre) Final: P Hunter (Eng) bt R O'Sullivan (Eng) 10-9. Frame scores (Hunter first): 22-59, 26-80, 117-8 (117 break), 1-86, 0-87, 22-84, 7-124, 127-0 (127 break), 47-84, 90-0, 102-27 (102 break), 82-9, 76-0, 32-97, 109-21 (109 break), 0-86, 142-0 (110 break), 72-35, 63-15.
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