Snooker: O'Sullivan's showboating style embarrasses Ebdon

By Nick Harris at the Crucible
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ronnie O'Sullivan purred, thumped and growled his way to a commanding 6-2 lead in his best-of-25 World Championship quarter-final against Peter Ebdon yesterday, making him the bookmakers' hot odds-on favourite for the title even before reaching the last four. The defending champion started in style, winning the first frame with a break of 71 and the second with an exceptionally fluid 137. Ebdon only took the next after fluking a yellow but O'Sullivan then hit his second century, a 101, for 3-1.

Ronnie O'Sullivan purred, thumped and growled his way to a commanding 6-2 lead in his best-of-25 World Championship quarter-final against Peter Ebdon yesterday, making him the bookmakers' hot odds-on favourite for the title even before reaching the last four. The defending champion started in style, winning the first frame with a break of 71 and the second with an exceptionally fluid 137. Ebdon only took the next after fluking a yellow but O'Sullivan then hit his second century, a 101, for 3-1.

Evidently toying with his talent as well as with Ebdon, the right-handed O'Sullivan increasingly played with his left hand, going 4-1 up with a break of 79. Frame six opened with a left-handed break, stalled after 43 points - at which point "The Rocket" hit the table with his hand - and was wrapped up with another 43 after Ebdon failed to capitalise, 5-1.

The seventh frame highlighted the task facing Ebdon, and the only possible solution to his dilemma: calm. He hit a 48 but then missed a sitter of a pink, which is precisely the colour his face went as he returned to his chair. For him, it was a betrayal of emotion on a par with other players smashing their cues. Yet he never really lost his cool, and when O'Sullivan erred on 48, he returned to the table to close out for 5-2.

O'Sullivan made a break of 39 in the next before missing a shot with the rest, at which point he growled out loud, although it had more of an Alan Partridge "Grrrrr, I'm a tiger" tone than anything especially sinister. Ebdon hit 14 before missing a blue, at which point he dipped his head as his face went pink again. He betrayed no bodily rage, but if he'd been a kettle he would have whistled. O'Sullivan hit a smooth 71 for 6-2.

Alan McManus clinched a 5-3 overnight lead against Ian McCulloch.

The qualifier Shaun Murphy took a 7-1 lead over Steve Davis into last night's second session, but Stephen Hendry had a poor start against Matthew Stevens. The seven-times champion was 1-5 down, but rallied to start the evening at 3-5.

Comments