Rocket is back?!
Ronnie O’Sullivan won his first tournament this season, the Shanghai Masters, without problems. In the final, the Englishman faced the current world champion Luca Brecel and confidently defeated him. How did Ronnie get to his fifth win at the Shanghai Masters?
The Shanghai Masters is being held in China for the first time since 2019. And it is fantastic that fans have had the battle of their dreams in the final of the highly anticipated tournament: Ronnie O’Sullivan against Luca Brecel. The last time the players met was in the semi-finals of the World Snooker Championship. The Belgian was stronger (13:10), who later won the title.
How Brecel beat O’Sullivan at the 2023 World Cup:
“Before the tournament I drank and didn’t train.” How Ronnie O’Sullivan missed out on a World Cup win
Although, in addition to Brecel and O’Sullivan, other top-level players attended the tournament. Mark Williams and Sean Murphy were eliminated in the round of 16, and Judd Trump and John Higgins were eliminated in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, the Shanghai Masters lost two more true billiards stars: Neil Robertson and Mark Selby.
A considerable part of the stars were eliminated from the tournament by Rocket and the Belgian Bullet. On his way to the final, Ronnie defeated Ali Carter (6-3), John Higgins (6-5) and Mark Selby (10-7). Luke faced Mark Williams (6:4), Robert Milkins (6:3) and Neil Robertson (10:7).
And if for Brecel the ShanghaiMasters is the second tournament this year after the EuropeanMasters, O’Sullivan has just opened the season. The Englishman participated in both the European Masters and the ChampionshipLeague, but withdrew from both competitions.
“Motivation is not what it used to be”
Before the final, Luke and Ronnie were in different moods. The Belgian Bullet said he would consider the title fight fun.
“I always want to win. It doesn’t matter who you play against. I think my goal was to reach at least the semi-finals. Now that I’m in the final I see it differently. It’s more about playing well and having fun than it is about winning. That has always been my way of thinking, even when I played against Selby in the World Cup final. I try to have fun, play fast and play well. I’ll try the same thing tomorrow,” Luke said.
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Ronnie admitted to having difficulty finding motivation.
“I’ve learned a lot over the years mentally and I know what to do. The only question is if I can do this consistently. Sometimes it’s hard to give 100% all the time. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, so fatigue takes its toll and my motivation isn’t what it used to be. I understand it, but it’s getting harder and harder to continue,” O’Sullivan explained.
Despite the different attitudes towards the final, the billiard players produced a real thriller in the decisive match. It all started smoothly, Rocket and Belgian Bullet took turns taking the draw 1:1, but soon the Englishman took the initiative 3:1. After a short pause, Luka managed to equalize the score and even take the lead (3:4). However, the first session was left to Ronnie. O’Sullivan won three final frames in a row 6:4.
“It wasn’t easy from start to finish”
The second session began in the same way as the first: the pool players took turns winning each frame (7:5). However, Luka took the initiative and leveled his lead with a score of 7:7. Ronnie wasn’t going to put up with this, he won the next three frames and took the lead (10:7). During this advance, the Englishman achieved the biggest break of the tournament: 143 points!
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It seemed that Rocket had victory practically assured, but that was not the case. The Belgian bullet remembered his fantastic comebacks in the 2023 World Cup and decided to do the same at the Shanghai Masters. Luca won two frames and reduced the difference to the minimum: 10:9. But in the next game O’Sullivan was undeterred and, in a close fight, emerged victorious 11:9.
Brecel’s historic comeback in the 2023 World Cup:
“I’ll relax and have a couple of drinks.” Billiards player makes a historic comeback in the World Cup
“I tried a lot. My plan A was to go to the table, dominate and get breaks,” Rocket admitted after the victory. “Plan B was to be attentive and keep my emotions under control.” I tried to control myself. This was one of those tournaments where I played well below my normal level, but when I needed to, I played well. “I wasn’t on autopilot, it wasn’t easy from start to finish.”
Ronnie extended his incredible winning streak at the Shanghai Masters. Rocket takes the tournament title for the fourth consecutive time. In total, the Englishman won five times in Shanghai. Ronnie received not only the cup, but also a decent cash prize: £210k for the win and £10k for the highest break.