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September 17, 2018

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Rocket powers to Shanghai victory

RONNIE “Rocket” O’Sullivan defended his title after beating English compatriot Barry Hawkins 11-9 in the final of Shanghai Masters at Regal International East Asia Hotel yesterday.

It was the first tournament of the season for O’Sullivan, who is currently ranked world No. 3. But he didn’t have it all his own way as Hawkins got the better of his fellow countryman in the afternoon section of the best-of-21 final. Hawkins made a break of 125 on his way to establish a 3-1 advantage.

O’Sullivan forced his way back and leveled the match before his opponent top scored with a break of 132, to take three out of the last four frames of the afternoon session for a 6-4 lead.

The Rocket roared at the beginning of the evening section and needed only 50 minutes to grab four frames in a row for an 8-6 lead. Hawkins pulled a frame back before O’Sullivan claimed the next two for a 10-7 lead and within touching distance of a win. Hawkins then held his nerve to clinch the next two frames to keep the match on a knife-edge at 10-9. But O’Sullivan put his opponent to the sword, winning the 20th frame with a break of 122, to claim the Shanghai title and 200,000 pounds (US$ 261,340) prize money.

“Barry started strong, but I got a bit lucky today and won the trophy,” said O’Sullivan, the Shanghai Champion in 2009 and 2017.

Stuart Bingham and O’Sullivan shared the highest break prize of the tournament with 140.

The much-expected O’Sullivan-Ding Junhui final did not happen after the local favorite lost 9-10 to Hawkins in Saturday’s semifinals. The Englishman took a 5-4 lead into the evening section and pressed home that advantage early on to move 7-4 in front. Ding won five in a row to move to the verge of victory at 9-7 but Hawkins showcased his steel to claim the next three frames en route to booking a ticket for the final.

“It’s quite disappointing to lose the game this way,” said Ding, winner in 2013 and 2016. “But I have had quite a few worse tournaments before, so this is all right.”


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