O’Sullivan survives nail-biter to book Hong Kong Masters semi-final berth

English legend wins tantalising final frame to edge Scotland’s John Higgins 5-4 before a capacity crowd at Queen Elizabeth Stadium

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 11:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 July, 2017, 11:46pm

“The Rocket” Ronnie O’Sullivan blasted off the blocks but had to endure a tantalising and closely fought final frame to edge Scotland’s John Higgins 5-4 and reach Saturday’s semi-finals of the Hong Kong Masters.

In the battle between two former world champions, five-time world title holder O’Sullivan blew hot and cold at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, leading 2-0 before Higgins, a four-time former world champion, got his game together in the best-of-nine-frame encounter.

The Wizard of Wishaw reeled off four frames in a row to take a 4-2 lead thanks to a 81 break. But O’Sullivan came back to make it 4-3 and then tied things up at 4-4 to set up a decisive ninth frame before a cheering capacity crowd.

A handshake before the final frame and O’Sullivan got the early breaks. A 27 clearance and then a 24 break had him leading 51-40 but the final frame turned out to be a close finish with both players nervously missing on the remaining colours. However, O’Sullivan cleared sufficient points to finally win the exciting frame 80-40.

O’Sullivan looked relieved as he returned to his chair after producing a brilliant performance in the best quarter-final match of the Hong Kong Masters. The 41-year-old O’Sullivan, the world No 14, booked a semi-final meeting against fellow Englishman Judd Trump, who had earlier defeated Shaun Murphy, also from England, 5-3 in the afternoon session.

“It’s an unbelievable crowd, fantastic venue, and probably one of the best venues you wish to play in. We play in London but this is something unbelievable,” said O’Sullivan.

“I really don’t mind who I have to play against. I have played all the great players who have ever played the game. Experience just tells you is that you have to go out there and play your own game and see what happens you know.”

Asked what he had to say to his adoring, cheering Hong Kong fans, O’Sullivan was at his laconic best. “See you tomorrow.”