Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan was simply majestic during Friday night's session.
Ronnie O’Sullivan 17-7 Barry Hawkins
Ronnie O'Sullivan booked a place in the final of the tournament with a full session to spare after dominating Friday night's play.
The signs were ominous for Barry Hawkins once O’Sullivan came roaring out of the blocks at the beginning of the evening.
Once into his rhythm, O’Sullivan took no time at all to clear the table with a 76 and take the opener 82-23.
A more cagey and tactical battle developed in the second frame with chances missed by either player. Dawkins unlocked the key to the frame with a stunning long red and drew level in the session, still just about hanging on the coat-tails of his opponent.
Dawkins tried to make the next frame another tactical masterpiece but his safety shots let him down as O’Sullivan cruised home 126-7.
A well worked 67 break had Hawkins in touching distance of the last frame before the interval but potting the cue ball wasn’t in the script. Fortunately his mistake wasn’t punished as O’Sullivan pinged a long black off of the jaws of the pocket.
The Romford-based potter soon saw the funny side himself when he too dropped the white and he conceded the frame soon after, leaving it 13-7 at the break and leaving himself four frames from victory.
What we saw after the interval was vintage O’Sullivan. As Hawkins sat glumly in his chair following a ridiculously easy yellow going awry, O’Sullivan’s clearance of 103 was world-class.
Gliding around the table at pace, and taking barely any time between shots, he was unplayable, majestic, and the crowd lapped it up.
As he began the next frame in similar fashion, Willie Thorne in live BBC commentary noted:
This is just superb snooker, there’s no other word for it […] Just a masterclass of break-building it really is. […] Everybody’s aim is to bring their practice game to the match table. This is almost Ronnie O’Sullivan’s practice game, on the biggest stage in the world.
His 84 left Hawkins shell-shocked and he didn’t even attempt to look for snookers. Conceding the frame, he was frozen to his seat and looked like his whole world had fallen apart.
A brief sortie to the table for Hawkins was a cursory inconvenience in O’Sullivan’s charge to the semi final, and the penultimate frame went exactly the same way, 84-0. Painful for Hawkins, manna from heaven for O’Sullivan and his supporters.
Victory was within touching distance with a session to spare, but O’Sullivan was trying just a little too hard to finish the match and skewed the back whilst on 39.
Hawkins approached the table more in hope than expectation and a paucity of able stroke play saw a measly 12. O’Sullivan’s laser-like accuracy was in evidence again. It was just a matter of time.
With 54 left on the table, Hawkins was allowed one final visit, requiring snookers to take the frame. That he missed his first ball really summed up his evening and conceding the match was his only real option.
The evening belonged to O’Sullivan and on this form, no one will bet against him taking the title on Monday.