RONNIE O’SULLIVAN CLINCHED his fifth World Championship title after he held off the challenge of fellow Englishman Barry Hawkins at The Crucible, Sheffield.
The Wordsley native had too much class for Hawkins, who began the tournament as an 80-1 outsider, and claimed the trophy with a 18-12 win. Asked by the BBC’s Hazel Irvine, following the win, if he would return to defend his trophy, O’Sullivan confirmed that he would play ‘some smaller tournaments’ but would not give a definitive answer.
Trailing 10-7 overnight, Hawkins knew he needed to get off to a flyer but he took just one frame from the opening four of the afternoon matches. A break of 127 made it 15-11 as the evening session got underway. O’Sullivan missed an easy red on the next frame and with Hawkins hitting form, the gap was down to three frames.
However, not for the first time over the course of the championship, The Rocket hit back with two composed breaks of his own to make it 17-12. A loose shot, as he was trying for a safety on the black, opened the door for O’Sullivan in the closing frame but he opted to play safe and wait for a clear opening. That chance duly arrived when Hawkins left a red on to the left centre pocket; O’Sullivan pounced and fell just short of another century break but took the frame and match.
O’Sullivan became only the third player, after Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, to reclaim a world championship title.
The 37-year-old had claimed, earlier in the event, that he would be stepping away from the game, possibly for good, following the final. O’Sullivan had taken an 11-month sabbatical from the game following world championship win number four last year.
Following O’Sullivan’s win, Denis Taylor, who won the title in 1985, described him as the greatest player to grace the sport.