RONNIE O’Sullivan came to the party yesterday with a perfectly-timed potting masterclass yesterday afternoon.
And the triple world champion left himself within a whisker of securing a coveted quarter-final place having established a commanding 11-5 lead over Mark Williams.
The ‘Rocket’ resumed 5-3 up on Welshman Williams and wasted no time in producing his vintage best as he cruised into a deserved six frame lead, which leaves him needing just two frames to progress to the next stage tonight.
Williams, the double world champion, was left shell-shocked and spent most the afternoon glued to his seat as O’Sullivan reeled off six frames on the spin.
But he at least spared himself the ignominy of losing with a session to spare by winning one frame of the penultimate session, although defeat is surely around the corner when the two green baize heavyweights resume tonight to conclude their best-of-25 frame duel.
Having won the final three frames of the opening session from 3-2 behind with breaks of 86 and 48, O’Sullivan made it a combined nine frames on the bounce with breaks of 107, 74, 51, 68, 128 and 93. It was exhilarating potting from the sport’s greatest entertainer as he moved a step closer to winning his fourth world crown.
Williams rallied with a spirited 86 break to prevent himself losing with a session to spare for the first time at snooker’s grandest event.
And the world No 4 pinched the last frame of the session to give himself a glimmer of hope, but barring a remarkable comeback it looks like O’Sullivan, chasing his first Crucible title since 2008, will be playing Australian Neil Robertson in the next round.
Judd Trump, last year’s beaten finalist, is closing in on a quarter-final place.
The Bristol potter trailed 5-3 overnight to compatriot Ali Carter but fought back in battling fashion to establish a 9-7 lead ahead of the concluding session of the pair’s best-of-25 frame duel.
And the world No 2 is now a firm favourite to reach his second Crucible quarter-final in as many year’s at snooker’s spiritual home.
The 22-year-old left-hander now needs to win four of a possible nine frames in tonight’s concluding session to keep his hopes alive of pocketing the £250,000 top prize.
Victory would also see a quarter-final meeting with either one of two qualifiers, Welshman Jamie Jones or Andrew Higginson, from Widnes.
Jones and Higginson resume to conclude their match this evening as this year’s £1.1million event enters it’s second week and, arguably, most engaging week.
Stephen Hendry, the seven-time world champion, will face Scottish compatriot Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals tomorrow. And Maguire expects nothing less than a real tussle with his boyhood idol. “It will be quite special to play Stephen at the Crucible, having not played him here before,” said Maguire.
“He was my idol.
“I started watching snooker at 10 or 11, and at that point he won everything, he was incredible. He’ll only have one thing on his mind: winning that trophy.”
Latest scores: Ronnie O’Sullivan leads Mark Williams 11-5, Judd Trump leads Ali Carter 9-7.
Today: (best-of-25 frames): - No morning play; 2.30pm: 2nd rnd, Trump v Carter - max of eight frames, Stevens v Hawkins - to a finish; 7pm: Jamie Jones v Andrew Higginson, Mark Williams v Ronnie O’Sullivan - both to a finish.