O’Sullivan hitting top gear at the Crucible

Rocket opens up two-frame lead on Trump after winning three of four in the afternoon

Ronnie O’Sullivan plays a shot against Judd Trump during their semi-final  in the Betfair World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre. Photograph:  Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Ronnie O’Sullivan plays a shot against Judd Trump during their semi-final in the Betfair World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

 

Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan clicked into gear to take control of his box-office Betfair World Championship semi-final with Judd Trump.

The game’s two great entertainers were locked at 4-4 overnight and 6-6 at the mid-session interval, but the more experienced O’Sullivan reeled off three frames in a row to take a 9-7 lead in the race to 17.

The Essex potter had the chance to make it a mini clean sweep after the break but missed a routine green to let Trump in for a frame he deserved based on the amount of misfortune he suffered throughout the morning. But, although he came back from five frames down to beat Shaun Murphy in an epic quarter-final, the odds are stacked against him making a second final in three years, with O’Sullivan, by his own admission in his swansong tournament, looking up for the challenge.

O’Sullivan’s safety play was of the highest order and he won two frames because of it, while his point-scoring was heavy enough after he shook off some early rustiness.

O’Sullivan’s usual vociferous support from the crowd never waned. One fan was particularly vocal when Trump undercut a pink on 27 in the opener, shouting out that O’Sullivan should “show him” - perhaps in reference to Trump saying on Wednesday that his opponent did not scare him. O’Sullivan answered the request with a clearing 90.

Trump was not looking particularly nimble among the balls and let out an audible groan when he fluffed a red on 35, but an identical contribution got him over the line and level again.

A fascinating 11th frame fell on the side of O’Sullivan thanks to a brilliant safety behind the yellow. He clipped a top-cushion red to get Trump in all sorts of trouble and knocked in a timely 34 to the pink.

Trump was as good as his word in not being intimidated, though, and responded by taking the final frame before the interval to give O’Sullivan a little reminder he was still in a game. That would be the last time the Bristol man was level, however, as O’Sullivan rattled off three frames in a row after the resumption.

The first of them should have gone Trump’s way but he never looked comfortable with the pink on the black spot and stalled on 30. O’Sullivan cracked in 43 and then produced a brilliant snooker on the green from which his opponent could not escape.

Seven became eight as O’Sullivan made a punishing 93 to the yellow after Trump missed a routine red to the corner, and a run of 60 secured him the next after the world number three blinked first in a safety exchange.

Trump managed to claw one back, though, with O’Sullivan missing the green.