Ronnie O’Sullivan won seven frames in a row to beat Neil Robertson 9-5 and clinch the 2016 Welsh Open title in Sunday’s final.
The Rocket did not look at his brilliant best in the opening exchanges at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena as he went 5-2 down.
But he won the final frame of the afternoon session and subsequently rattled off six more in a row in the evening’s action to claim his fourth Welsh Open title and £60,000 in prize money, per World Snooker.
It was a matter of opportunities missed for Australia’s Robertson in the evening. The world No. 3 missed an uncharacteristic number of simple chances, and O’Sullivan took full advantage.
Robertson was the first into the balls in the ninth frame—the first of the evening session—but he couldn’t make it count and the Rocket cut the deficit to one.
It was the same again in frame 10, Robertson missing an easy pink having got the first opportunity, and another missed blue from the Aussie when given a second chance allowed O’Sullivan to tie up the match.
When the Englishman was the first into the balls in the 11th frame he couldn’t produce a winning visit, but Robertson risked a long red and O’Sullivan got back to the table, making a 67 break to go ahead for the first time in the match, per Live Snooker:
An audacious plant was vital for O’Sullivan as he won the next frame for 7-5, but again Robertson had been unable to take his opportunity when first into the balls.
With the pressure on at 7-5 down and O’Sullivan having made a break of 61, Robertson couldn’t pot an ambitious black and O’Sullivan went back in to move one away from victory.
It had not been vintage play from one of the greats of the game, but O’Sullivan had not needed to hit top gear in the evening session as he simply had to take advantage of Robertson’s mistakes.
But he turned on the style in the final frame, a spectacular long pot getting him into the balls before he produced a break of 141 to seal the match and the tournament.
Per BBC Sport’s broadcast (via Live Snooker), O’Sullivan paid tribute to Robertson after the win and hailed an excellent week’s work in the Welsh capital: “I’m delighted to win it. Neil’s been the best player all season and definitely the best player in the world at the moment. I just tried to stay in there and stay patient. I’ve had a fantastic week and played so much better here than at the Masters.”
O’Sullivan came into the final in flying form after beating Joe Perry 6-3 at the last-four stage. However, he looked uncharacteristically rusty early on, and the ever-reliable Robertson took the opening stanza in clinical fashion.
The world No. 3 saw off the tough challenge of Mark Allen in his semi-final, and he took advantage of an early miss from O’Sullivan in the second frame to move 2-0 ahead with a break of 78.
Going for his fourth Welsh Open title, O’Sullivan got his first frame on the board for 2-1 as Robertson paid for a loose safety and a missed red. However, the 2007 champion restored his two-frame lead after a scrappy start to the fourth as he produced a winning visit of 76.
After an exchange of stanzas, Robertson then guaranteed he would take a lead into the evening session, taking advantage of a favourable position to move 5-2 ahead with a 77 break, per Live Snooker:
O’Sullivan refused to be left with a mountain to climb in the best-of-17-frames clash, though, winning the final frame to finish the afternoon’s action trailing by just two.
It is still anyone’s final after O’Sullivan’s efforts at the end of the first session, and the 40-year-old will look to take his momentum into the evening’s play.