Ronnie O'Sullivan is the winner of the 2014 UK Championship,but only after surviving a late rally from Judd Trump which forced this all the way to a deciding frame for a breathtaking finish to the tournment
In a match that struggled early on to reach the heights standardwise we saw from these two in the final in Coventry last month,it was Ronnie who was proving to be the more clinical in taking his chances as he established an early 5-1 lead.Trump however managed to keep in touch,taking the last two of the afternoon session to make it 5-3.
Into the evening then and there was little sign of the drama that was to come as Ronnie took three of the first four frames to lead 8-4 and when that became 9-4 it looked only a matter of minutes until our champion was crowned.
That seemed to be what Judd was feeling as well,as he missed chance after chance in a scrappy 14th frame,on each occasion looking more resigned to his fate every time he returned to his seat.
Win the frame though he did and then something extraordinary happened.Judd started to find a fluency that had been lacking in his game and the breaks started to flow.Firstly a 120 break made it 9-6,and that was quickly followed by a 127 to make it 9-7 and an 86 to make it 9-8.
Ronnie had now failed to pot a ball for three frames and it must have made strange viewing for him to sit and watch someone doing to him what he has done to so many in the past.
By now he was just desperate for a chance and it was to come in the next,but with the match at his mercy,Ronnie failed to get position on a red & Judd cleared with a marvelous 67 to take us to a decider.
The match was now anybodies and after both had half decent scoring chances,the decisive moment came when Ronnie laid a tough snooker behind the green and Judd's escape presented him with the chance to fall over the line. He duly took it to win a memorable final 10-9.
This was Ronnies fifth UK title in a glittering career ,but rarely has he been put under the pressure he was here and when the dust settles he will look back with great satisfaction at how he held himself together to see it out.
As for Judd he will feel bitterly disappointed that after coming back so well, he could not finish the job.What we have seen though,over the last month particularly,is a Judd that is maturing and after a couple of seasons where his career had appeared to stall,he now seems to be going the right way again.If he keeps on this path the big titles are certain to follow.
As for Ronnie though,what more can we say? This fifth UK title,completed the set to stand alongside his five World & Masters titles. The fact that he has achieved it with a broken ankle that nearly forced him to withdraw last weekend is even more remarkable. These are special times to be a snooker fan and lets hope we have many more years left of watching this sporting genius ply his trade.