Published On: Fri, Sep 15th, 2023
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Ronnie O’Sullivan sparks retirement concern despite reaching Shanghai Masters final | Other | Sport

Ronnie O’Sullivan is homing in on a fourth Shanghai Masters title in a row after reaching the final with a superb win over fierce rival Mark Selby – but admitted post-match he is losing motivation and enthusiasm in snooker after playing the sport for 40 years. The Rocket claimed a 10-7 victory over the Leicester Jester on the Grand Stage after a brilliant late flourish that saw him reel off the final four frames.

World No 1 O’Sullivan had trailed 7-6 at the evening mid-session interval having seen four-time world champion Selby outscore him for most of the match. But the seven-time Crucible king stole frame 14 by a single point with a break of 66 to level at 7-7 – and then efforts of 69, 108 and 118 saw him race over the winning line.

O’Sullivan has won four Shanghai Masters titles in all, including the last three staged. But the most recent of those came in 2019 before the Covid pandemic saw the tournament cancelled. However he has now won 17 matches in a row at the event, with his last defeat coming against Michael Holt in 2016.

This win over Selby followed a similarly impressive conclusion to his quarter-final against John Higgins, when O’Sullivan knocked in back to back centuries to win 6-5. And O’Sullivan will now play for the £210,000 first prize in Sunday’s final. O’Sullivan had branded his form over the past 18 months “useless and awful” following his win over Higgins that set to the Selby semi-final clash.

READ MORE: Ronnie O’Sullivan sets out retirement plan and admits ‘naughty behaviour’ blighted career

But after making a total of three centuries in the match, he said: “The 14th frame was important. Mark missed a pink on a break of 65. It was maybe just a loss of concentration and he left me a chance – and I knew I just had to get one pink and the rest blacks.

“I had nothing to lose and just had to go for it. Maybe I relaxed at that point. The start of the match was not so good for me up until 6-6 I was struggling a bit. I hung in there and made a little technical change as I realised I needed to find some form.

“I changed my alignment a bit, my shoulder just to get it more closed and get more on line and control the white better. It was difficult and I was pleased to find some form at the end. I have learned so much over the years I know what to do, it is whether I can be bothered to do it all the time.

“Sometimes it is hard to give 100 per cent all the time. I have been doing this for 40 years so you can get tired and the motivation and enthusiasm is not the same. But I accept that, as you get older. I will watch the other semi-final, maybe have some dim sum and some hotpot.”

Meanwhile Neil Robertson was delighted after the bizarre ‘Banana-gate’ controversy to hit him during the quarter-final against Rob Milkins was resolved. The Australian, who plays world champion Luca Brecel in the second semi-final, was asked by the referee Zhu Ying to stop eating his regular banana between frames.

But tournament directors assured Robertson that an error had been made and he has free to carry on with the energising dietary practice.

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