Ronnie O'Sullivan's hopes of a third consecutive world crown remain very much alive tonight ,but only after he produced snooker of the highest possible quality,winning the last two frames with superb centuries,to finally see off the determined challenge of Joe Perry. 13-11.
What was remarkable about yesterday afternoons session in this one was the fact that the twice Ronnie managed to get back within one of Perry,Joe managed to steady himself and pull away again.That was to repeat itself this morning as O'Sullivan took the opener,before Perry moved ahead again making it 10-8 Ronnie.who was showing signs his best form was within touching distance,took the next.to trail 10-9,but Perry showed real bottle,capitalized on a missed red from Ronnie to make sure the first four frames were shared and to take an 11-9 interval lead.
It was now make or break tine for Ronnie and two good scoring visits saw him close with one again at 11-10 when play resumed. Both players had their chances in the next but the crucial moment of the frame and perhaps the match came when Perry potting the blue,attempted to split the reds and agonisingly saw the white drop in the corner pocket.From here Ronnie made 52 to draw level at 11-11 ,before producing those runs of 124 & 113 to get over the line.
His relief was there for all to see as turned to the crowd and punched the air as he left the arena,There are only a handful of players who have ever played the game who could have produced what Ronnie did today under that much pressure,but probably for him the most pleasing aspect of the match was the fact that he had managed to stay in it in the early stages,when he wasn't playing well and Perry was playing superbly.A match like this you feel,where he really had to work for it, can only stand him in goo stead for the rest of the tournament.
Elsewhere Barry Hawkins also booked his place in the quarter finals with a hard fought win over old rival Ricky Walden. These two met here in the semi final last year,where Walden at one stage held a four frame advantage at 12-8 before Hawkins fought back to win it 17-14 and history repeated itself here as Walden last night lead 9-5 with two frames of the session remaining,but saw that lead wiped out by todays midsession interval with the score tied at 10-10.
Things were getting tense now as that pressure you only get at The Crucible seemed to be getting to both players and two error strewn frames were shared to make it 11-11.From here it was going to come down to who managed to steady themselves the better and that was Hawkins as he took the next two frames to win the match 13-11.
In the battle of the veterans Alan McManus came out on top in a match that as expected was hard fought all the way. McManus had been the better player in the first session,until a late rally from Doherty reduced his arrears to 4-3 overnight and it was the Scot again who started the better today,winning the first six frames to lead 10-3. Doherty though has never been one to give up and won the last two of the session again to close to 10-5.
Into tonights final session and Doherty kept his run going reducing his arrears to 10-7 before McManus stopped the rot to lead 11-7.Doherty did pull one further frame back to make it 11-8 but it was McManus who prevailed,taking the next two to secure a 13-8 win and set up a quarter final clash with Mark Selby.
In other matches still in their infancy,Judd Trump leads Ryan Day 6-2 .although Day will be scratching his head as to how he's four behind because this session was closer than that. & Dominic Dale has a commanding 7-1 lead over Dings conqueror .Michael Wassley.