Ronnie O’Sullivan finally came to the party yesterday – and his vintage display was well worth waiting for.
Having underwhelmed in his two victories on route to the quarter-finals, snooker’s box office star gave his army of fans something to savour.
The ‘Rocket’ roared into a majestic 7-1 lead over fellow Essex potter Stuart Bingham after opening session for their quarter-final clash here the Crucible Theatre.
And the four-time world champion’s stunning start means he could win with a session to spare today at snooker’s showcase tournament.
The pair resume to conclude their best-of-25 frame clash this morning and, if O’Sullivan can win six of the next eight scheduled frames, then he will have the night off having won with a welcome session off.
The 37-year-old was back to his best as he reeled off seven frames on the spin to leave Bingham’s own title-hopes hanging in the balance.
But Bingham at least spared himself the embarrassment of being whitewashed by O’Sullivan when he won the final frame of the session. Breaks of 79 and 54 saw O’Sullivan win the opening frame, before last year’s champion doubled his advantage by winning a scrappy second frame.
A fine century of 111 followed and a break of 60 as well as O’Sullivan eased into a 4-0 interval lead.
And it got even better after the interval as O’Sullivan pocketed an 87 break and then compiled a superb 133 break – his sixth century of the tournament – in taking a 6-0 lead.
A break of 78 followed in the next frame as O’Sullivan closed in a session whitewash.
But Bingham, who had spent of the afternoon watching a potting masterclass, punched the last frame of the session to keep his faint hopes of progressing alive.
However, the stats didn’t lie with O’Sullivan having outscored his opponent by a staggering 733-199 points, which left him with a commendable 96 per cent pot success rate.
If O’Sullivan returns in the same rich vein of form, Bingham’s tournament will be over earlier than he’d have liked.
n Latest scores: Ronnie O’Sullivan leads Stuart Bingham 7-1, Ricky Walden leads Michael White 6-2, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy level 8-8, Barry Hawkins leads Ding Junhui 9-7.
n Today: 10am - O’Sullivan v Bingham, Hawkins v Ding – max 8 frames; 2.30pm – Murphy v Trump, White v Walden – max 8 frames; 7pm – O’Sullivan v Bingham, White v Walden – both to a finish.