Ronnie O’Sullivan secures sixth UK Championship
Rocket beats Shaun Murphy 10-5 to move level with Hendry on 18 triple-crown titles
Ronnie O’Sullivan secured a sixth UK Championship success on Sunday night. Photograph: Richard Sellers/PA
Now the 42-year-old is being tipped to push to become the most successful player the sport has ever seen, by seven-time world champion Hendry himself.
O’Sullivan landed his sixth Betway UK Championship title on Sunday, matching the tournament record set by Davis in the 1980s.
He crushed 2008 UK champion Shaun Murphy’s hopes of a second title success as he pulled away in the evening to clinch a 10-5 victory at the Barbican.
O’Sullivan racked up breaks of 75, 104, 76, 103, 86 and 59 in a startling session, wasting no time in pocketing the £170,000 top prize.
The achievement also moved O’Sullivan level with Hendry’s never-beaten haul of 18 titles at the sport’s Triple Crown majors, the series made up of the UK Championship, World Championship and Masters.
A 19th major could beckon at the Masters next month, and the retired Hendry believes O’Sullivan’s recent remarks that he does not care about results are a smokescreen for serious ambition.
Scottish sporting great Hendry, now a BBC pundit, said: “Ronnie can say what he wants about how he doesn’t care, but when he gets to that table does he look like he doesn’t care? I don’t think so.
“He wants to win and perhaps when he loses he’s got other things in his life, but he’s a winner. There’s no doubt in my mind he knows how many he’s got and he knows how many he needs to get.”
The record for the most ranking titles still belongs to Hendry, but his tally of 36 is being chased down by O’Sullivan, whose three tournament triumphs in the past two months have left him just five short. He competes at the Scottish Open this week.
O’Sullivan said of his latest big-stage victory: “The records are great. I tried my best all week and there’s nothing left.
“I’m over the moon to win any tournament, let alone the UK Championship.
“I just love playing and love competing and I can’t believe I’m still playing at 42, with all these grey hairs.
“Maybe snooker’s becoming an old man’s game now, you just don’t know. It was a young man’s game in the nineties and 2000s, but now a lot of older players are doing alright.”
Murphy led the praise for O’Sullivan, saying: “He’s the greatest player we’ve ever seen. Ronnie can go on for as long as he wants. He’s the fittest player around, he’s the most talented. There’s nothing to stop him.”
Whether O’Sullivan returns to defend his UK title in 2018 remains to be seen. He said in the week leading up to the York final that he fancies a turn in the money-spinning I’m A Celebrity jungle, following in the footsteps of fellow snooker stars Davis and Jimmy White.