Ronnie O'Sullivan claimed his third Welsh Open title tonight in the best style imaginable,clinching the final frame with a superb 147 to seal a 9-3 victory over Ding Junhui and showed us once again that he currently stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
This was the clash every snooker fan had waited all season to see,Ding having claimed four ranking titles including a run of three in a row against Ronnie who at the Masters last month showed he was in the form that saw him claim the last two world titles.
What we were hoping for was a classic,but it has to be said early on this one really failed to sparkle,as Ding missed some good early chances and O'Sullivan opened up a 3-0 lead.Ding did manage to clinch a scrappy fourth to close to 3-1,but a miscue on the green in a lengthy fifth gifted that frame to Ronnie and he also took the next to open a commanding 5-1 lead.
Into the seventh frame and another close one went the way of O'Sullivan courtesy of a superb blue,pink and black,before taking the last of the session to secure a commanding 7-1 lead.
The crowd attending tonight knew that they were in all likelihood they were going to have an earl night but Ding to his credit came out all guns blazing knocking in back to back centuries to close to 7-2. Indeed he had a half chance in the next,but when he failed to take and O'Sullivan cleared up to move to 8-3 ahead the ed was in sight. Then came that fabulous 147,which included a positional shot from last red to black that had to be seen to be believed,to sign off the Welsh Open's stay at the Newport Centre in perfect style.
A dominant display in the final then from O'Sullivan who has seemed throughout this tournament to be playing with an inner calm that has made him practically unplayable,as nothing seemed to phase him. Much has been made of his link up with Dr Steve Peters in recent years and there is little doubt,he has played a major part in Ronnie's recent successes.Some have wondered if they had met earlier in his career how many more titles he would have to his name now and the mind boggles at the thought,but it is also possible that maybe if they had,Ronnie may well have retired by now,as perhaps its the newness of the approach that has yielded these results.
For Ding he will be disappointed that he didn't get going in this one until it was way too late,but he can still be proud of another fine week in what has been a superb season for him.He will no doubt be eyeing up that fifth ranking title of the season in the World Open next week.
Also before I wrap up this blog,I must mention this event as a whole which I think has been a real success.There was a fear with a tournament lasting 12 days that it might all be just a little drawn out and yes I would prefer best of 9's from the start but I feel as a format it is preferable to the rushed chaos we've seen in some tournaments this season.
Finally lets salute our champion.That maximum in the final frame was Ronnie's 12th in professional snooker moving him one ahead of Hendry on the all time list.Who is to say over the next few seasons he wont eclipse a few more of Hendry's records,but I think regardless of whether he does or doesn't at this stage most would agree Ronnie is in terms of superlatives "the greatest".