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O'Sullivan hammers Selby to land fifth Masters crown

Ismail Vedat at Alexandra Palace
January 19, 2014 « Alcott's Olympic hopes hanging in the balance | Chartbeat test »
Ronnie O'Sullivan is one title short of equalling Stephen Hendry's record © PA Photos
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Ronnie O'Sullivan has won the Masters for the fifth time in his career after he put on a devastating display to beat Mark Selby 10-4 at the Alexandra Palace.

Selby was aiming to defend his title and win the prestigious event for the fourth time, but he ran into a dominant O'Sullivan who was in no mood to surrender his lead from the first session.

O'Sullivan and Selby had met twice before in Masters finals, with O'Sullivan winning in 2009 - which was the last time he triumphed at the event - and Selby coming from 9-6 down to win 10-9 in 2010.

The Verdict

  • Ronnie O'Sullivan has been on a different planet this week at the Alexandra Palace, which is a worrying prospect for his rivals.
  • His performances were better than the ones he put in when he defended his world championship crown at the Crucible last May, and the 'Rocket' is once again enjoying the game.
  • This time 12 months ago, O'Sullivan was undertaking voluntary work on a farm in Essex during his self-imposed exile from the game.
  • In the past, the focus of O'Sullivan had always been questioned, but given the way he has dominated this week at the Ally Pally and has become the player to beat in recent months, he is switched on and full focused on demolishing his opponents with consummate ease.

It was imperative for Selby to make a bright start having lost seven of the eight frames in the afternoon session.

However, the opening four frames of the evening were shared, meaning O'Sullivan closed to within one of victory at 9-3.

Selby claimed the next frame for 9-4, but he would soon relinquish his crown as O'Sullivan swept to victory to take it 10-4.

O'Sullivan, who has only dropped three frames en route to the final, stormed into a 2-0 lead with breaks of 97 and 70, and Selby hardly had any table time as his opponent dominated.

A run of 96 enabled O'Sullivan to pull further clear at 3-0, and it appeared that Selby would get his first frame on the board when he led by 36 points.

However, O'Sullivan made a 45 to lead in the frame after Selby went in-off with the cueball, and following a bout of safety, O'Sullivan landed the green after swerving around the pink and potted a difficult brown into the right middle pocket from an acute angle to pinch the fourth frame.

The midsession interval did nothing to change the pattern of the match, as O'Sullivan went into exhibition mode with runs of 37 and 47 - which included a superb double on the green - to collect another frame and lead 5-0 as the alarm bells were ringing for Selby.

O'Sullivan broke down on 53 as he edged closer to going 6-0 in front. But Selby with contributions of 36 and 27 either side of a few safety shots picked up his first frame to trail 5-1.

Selby was in control in the seventh frame, but O'Sullivan forced a re-spotted black, and eventually he took it when sinking the black to the right middle, before winning the final frame of the first session to hold a 7-1 advantage.

O'Sullivan quickly carried off from where he left off to take the first frame of the evening, making a break of 90 to move 8-1 in front.

O'Sullivan missed a brown in the tenth frame to make it 9-1 following a 41, but Selby rattled the final black as the pressure increased. O'Sullivan though took on a risky black along the top cushion, and left the black over the pocket to enable Selby to take only his second frame at 8-2.

After gifting Selby the previous frame, O'Sullivan broke down on a red on 26, and Selby kept his cool to knock in a 67 and reduce the deficit to five frames at 8-3. O'Sullivan however went into the midsession interval one frame away from the win at 9-3.

The 13th frame began with a fan being ejected from the crowd as Selby prepared for a shot, but the interference did not faze Selby as he made a 67 to pick up another frame. But O'Sullivan wrapped up victory with a break of 72 to defeat Selby.

"Anytime you win a tournament is a great feeling. I want to congratulate Mark on a terrific tournament. He's a great competitor. I'm really pleased to have got my win. I expected it to be 10-8, 10-9, 10-7, something like that," O'Sullivan said.

"Mark plays better when he's behind. I've experienced that on a few occasions. He does it so many times that you never feel you're over the line."

And Selby said: "I'm obviously disappointed to lose. He was so clinical and he just put me on the back foot all the time. Credit to Ronnie, he played well and deserved the win. The damage was done in the first session, and with Ronnie, you need to try and get on top of him early and put the pressure on him. But it just wasn't meant to be today."

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