Snooker: O'Sullivan makes it black day for White

Ronnie O'Sullivan unceremoniously exploded sentimental hopes that Jimmy White might regain the Masters title 21 years after his sole success here with an emphatic 6-1 victory over the 42-year-old Londoner which pits him against John Higgins, a 6-3 winner over Peter Ebdon, in today's best of 19 frames final.

Ronnie O'Sullivan unceremoniously exploded sentimental hopes that Jimmy White might regain the Masters title 21 years after his sole success here with an emphatic 6-1 victory over the 42-year-old Londoner which pits him against John Higgins, a 6-3 winner over Peter Ebdon, in today's best of 19 frames final.

The world champion, who has already won two of the season's first five ranking events, was assisted by typically fluent breaks of 76, 76, 97 and 106. "It was important I didn't make any silly mistakes amongst the balls," said O'Sullivan. "It was important to keep playing as if it was 0-0 and not think about the scoreboard."

White's previous 6-5 survivals against Matthew Stevens, having needed two snookers to save the match at 3-5, and Mark Williams, after a farrago of mutual errors in the last two frames, settled for a winning 75 in the fourth frame but was otherwise comprehensively outgunned.

Higgins, the 1999 champion, was understandably edgy as the winning line approached following his 6-5 defeat by Graeme Dott from 5-2 up in the Malta Cup semi-finals two weeks ago.Having secured the first two frames with breaks of 67 and 69, Higgins unaccountably missed an easy black on 62 in the third frame. Ebdon produced a superb 64 clearance, highlighted by the shot of the tournament, a pink from the penultimate red at a bizarre angle, but Higgins nevertheless led 3-1 and 5-2.

A 79 cut Ebdon's arrears to 5-3, but Higgins, in five scoring visits, clinched victory in a disjointed ninth.

"You rarely see great semi-finals because there's so much riding on the match," said Higgins. "I needed a few chances but I'm delighted to get through to the final and pleased to be back playing to a decent standard." The Scot had gone 37 months without winning a ranking title until he prevailed in November's British Open.

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