World Snooker

‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan blasts China’s Ding Junhui away in one-sided World Grand Prix final

Englishman’s fine season continues as he closes in on Stephen Hendry’s tournament record

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 February, 2018, 1:02pm

Former world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan thrashed Chinese number one Ding Junhui in a dominant victory in the final of the World Grand Prix in Preston on Sunday night.

The Englishman built steadily on a 6-3 lead at the interval and made light work of the 30-year-old Yixing-native as he completed a 10-3 win.

The win was 42-year-old O’Sullivan’s first at the World Grand Prix, which was first played in 2015. He was a beaten finalist in the inaugural edition, losing out to fellow Englishman Judd Trump.

“It wasn’t the best performance, I dragged Ding down to my level,” O’Sullivan said after his win. “He lost his concentration and I took bits and pieces. I’m always going to score, even when I’m not at my best my cue ball control is still good.”

The five-time world champion claimed the £100,000 (US$140,000, HK$1.1 million) prize money after clearances of 124, 105 and 120 helped him past a shell-shocked Ding.

“I had chances in the first session but didn’t take them,” Ding said. “It looks like I played rubbish.

“It is a always dream to play Ronnie in a final and I wanted to play well against him – it doesn’t always happen, but I tried. For the last few months I didn’t play well, but I felt good this week.”

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Ding’s semi-final clash with world number one Mark Selby only finished in the early hours of Sunday morning, and O’Sullivan took full advantage of his opponent’s lack of recovery time.

Many in the game say O’Sullivan, who has now won 32 ranking tournaments, is in the form of his life, and he will be looking to build on the win when he competes this week at the Welsh Open which begins on Monday.

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“It is nice to be playing, competing and having fun,” he said.

“I re-dedicated myself to the sport before last year’s Worlds and put the work in and I have had a few results.

“I haven’t played since the Masters so I came here cold and I got lucky this week.”

Ding has endured a difficult season having progressed to the last four of a tournament only twice this term.

O’Sullivan, meanwhile, is fast closing in on snooker great Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 ranking titles.