World Snooker Championship 2014: Semi-Final Scores, Results, Fixtures, More
Thirty-two players came to the famous Crucible theatre on April 19 for Round 1 of the World Championship, with their respective dreams of being crowned the king of snooker very much alive.
Now, though, just four remain as semi-final time comes around, with Ronnie O’Sullivan, Barry Hawkins, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson the quartet still in the mix.
World No. 1 Robertson clocked up his 100th century of the season in his quarter-final tie against Judd Trump and looks in imperious form heading into his last-four clash against Selby.
Meanwhile, it’s a repeat of last year’s final in the other semi-final, with O’Sullivan taking on Hawkins for a place in the last two.
The Rocket breezed to an 18-12 victory over Hawkins to claim his second World Championship crown in a row in 2013, and he’s looking for a similar performance against the Hawk this time around to set him up for the hat-trick.
Read on for session-by-session recaps of the semi-final action, as the tournament approaches its thrilling climax.
Mark Selby vs. Ronnie O'Sullivan
Mark Selby vs. Ronnie O'Sullivan
May 3, Evening Session
Mark Selby 17-15 Neil Robertson
In what will go down in history as one of the greatest matches the Crucible has ever witnessed, Selby beat world number one Robertson by just two frames to set up a date with Ronnie O'Sullivan in the final of the World Championships, which will start on Sunday.
The players finished the morning session tied at 10 frames each and split the afternoon session, as this match was seemingly destined to go right to the wire.
Throughout the day Selby had looked good in the first sessions before being dominated by Robertson in the latter, and the Englishman started the evening session in similar fashion, looking fantastic in the first two frames and forcing his opponent into a snooker-situation in frame 30. The snooker failed, giving Selby a two-frame lead in the evening's best-of-five, and needing only one more frame to qualify for the final.
But Robertson showed why he's ranked first in the world, scoring a 108-break (his 103rd century of the season) in the next frame and grabbing some momentum as he looked to tie things up once more.
But Selby would take control early of the 32rd frame, opening up a large lead Robertson would not be able to overcome. A missed snooker late was enough for the Australian to throw in the towel, ending a 12-hour battle for the ages.
Selby will feel the effects of such a draining match and has little time to recover, as O'Sullivan will be waiting for him in the final, set to start on Sunday. The Rocket has won the last two World Championships and was the overwhelming favourite to repeat coming into the tournament, and he never even needed a third session in his simple 17-7 win over Barry Hawkins.
Selby started this tournament with one of the oddest frames in snooker history (including a free ball that wasn't free, in an incident the player himself described as a "blonde moment," via inside-snooker.com) and has overcome bouts of sloppy play throughout this past week.
When he's been on however, he has looked seemingly unstoppable, and he will need to be at his very best against O'Sullivan, who told the BBC he was "buzzing" for Sunday's final:
I'm just buzzing to be playing and enjoying it.
To get to three finals in a row having already won two - if you'd have told me that three years ago it would've never entered my thoughts I could do it.
[...] I've still got one more match to play so I can't afford to get all excited.
Sunday's final will start at 2 p.m. BST (8 a.m. ET).
May 3, Afternoon Session
Neil Robertson 12-12 Mark Selby
Robertson and Selby split the four session played after the break and the Australian went 5-3 in the afternoon, ensuring tonight's final session will be starting with both players needing five frames to progress to the final of the World Championship.
Selby seemed to be taking control early in the afternoon session, convincingly claiming the first two frames and nearly seizing an opportunity on a crucial yellow in the third, with the table set to be cleared from 64-0 down.
And just like in the morning session, a late rally from the Australian would lead to another tie, as Robertson took full advantage of another miss on a red to take the 24th frame. Selby may have looked like the in-control player for much of the afternoon, but the experienced World number one used all of his experience to sneak the final frames, setting up what should be a breathtaking evening session.
Fans on social media are already calling this semi-final an instant classic, with both players having achieved breaks over 130 over the course of these 24 frames. With Ronnie O'Sullivan and his two consecutive championship wins waiting in the final, it seems only two true heavyweights of the sport would face of in such a battle for the right to play The Rocket.
Robertson became the first player in history to score 100 centuries in a season during the quarter-final, and he indicated how excited he was over the feat ahead of this semi-final, as he told BBC Sport:
I would rather make the century of centuries than make a 147 here, it was that important to me to achieve that milestone.
No-one will ever make 200 centuries in a season, that will be impossible, so for me to be the first player to reach 100 centuries in a season is a great honour. I'm sure that a lot of guys will be trying to get there as well, but I'm the first.
The Australian played phenomenal during the opening rounds but struggled in the quarter-final, while Selby has been struggling for much of the tournament but seems to have found his edge at just the round time. But despite his perceived better form, the match is still tied at 12.
If Robertson can find his groove again during the evening session, he should be able to take advantage of the many mistakes Selby seems to be making. Handling the pressure will become key at this point, and there are few players as good as dealing with nerves as Robertson.
May 3, Morning Session
Neil Robertson 10-10 Mark Selby
Mark Selby and Neil Robertson resumed their semi-final on Saturday morning with the score at 9-7 in favour of the Englishman.
After reducing the gap to two frames on Friday afternoon, Robertson would have been keen to get off to a strong start. But Selby wasn’t keen on surrendering any initiative, starting the day with poise and purpose.
The man dubbed the “Jester from Leicester” took the first frame of the day, constructing a classy break of 104. But Robertson, who showcased so much fighting spirit in Friday’s afternoon session, responded well.
He strode to the table in the second frame of the day with the balls in some tough positions, but he demonstrated some remarkable break building to rattle off 85 and get the deficit back to two. In the end, he’ll have been disappointed not have made a century, missing a very pot-able black with the frame won.
The next frame lasted for over 50 minutes, and it was full of twists and turns. It was clear both players were beginning to feel the pressure, as mistakes creeped in at the start of the third frame. Robertson looked to have left a pot-able red on for Selby, but he fortunately for him, the white snook in behind the green on the baulk cushion.
Selby got close to the red a few times, but eventually left an opportunity on for his opponent. But he made an error late on in the frame, giving Selby a chance to win if he could get three snookers. Selby probed for an opening, but eventually Robertson prevailed. A vital point after such an exhausting frame.
Noticeably buoyed, Robertson comfortably won the fourth frame, and he found himself level at the mid-session interval, the scores locked at 10-10.
May 2, Evening 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.
May 2, Afternoon Session
Neil Robertson 7-9 Mark Selby
Leading 5-3 from their previous session, Mark Selby will be disappointed to have let Robertson get within a frame at the start of Friday’s afternoon session.
Two presentable chances were squandered in what should’ve been Selby’s frame with ease. Robertson’s studious safety’s allowed the platform to get off to the best possible start, 103-25.
A foul and a free-ball from Selby whilst at 6-3 down in frame two allowed his opponent an early chance, and after a plant opened up the table, there was no stopping him as he devoured the balls for yet another century break (113) to take the frame 119-3.
Live on BBC TV, Willie Thorne noted: “He’s probably the best potter in the game. Definitely the best break-builder in the game at the moment. There must be a flaw somewhere.”
Selby was given a great chance to take the next frame and lead again after an easy missed pink from Robertson stunned the crowd. His visit was peppered with poor positional play and a missed black looked like he’d foregone yet another frame.
Robertson required snookers but couldn’t capitalize try as he might. A 73-32 take edged Selby ahead once more, but compared to the more relaxed Robertson, Selby was nervous at the table and needed to settle.
The knowledgeable Crucible crowd began to offer quite vocal support to Selby, who responded with some magnificent cueing.
BBC’s John Virgo noted: “it’s another hard fought and tense frame and your guess is as good as mine as to what the outcome is going to be.”
It fell the way of Selby to forge two ahead again before the mid session break.
Back came Robertson with a 72, leaving Selby requiring three snookers to be in with a shout. It was always going to be too much to claw back and this see-saw battle began taking the same pattern as the previous sessions.
A ton of mistakes by Selby weren’t punished as time and again Robertson missed the long reds, giving his opponent a continued lifeline which was hardly deserved.
With only one break over 50 since frame seven of proceedings, it was questionable how Selby managed to extend his lead yet again but frame 15 was all about Selby as he began to find rhythm.
A great build in and around the black and reds gave him a 64 break and although it took another 20 minutes to see out the frame after a succession of snookers, Selby emerged victorious and the gap widened still further.
Another 53 took him toward a four-frame cushion and the clearance wasn’t beyond him in his first visit. A very simple black shook the sides of the pocket and Robertson took full advantage to reduce the gap to two again at the close.
As you were.
May 2, Morning Session
Ronnie O'Sullivan 11-5 Barry Hawkins
Barry Hawkins' Crucible campaign is nearing its end after Ronnie O'Sullivan moved closer to booking his place in the final, taking an 11-5 lead from Friday morning's session.
Hawkins has rode his luck to get to this stage, edging his previous two matches by a collective three frames, but the difference in pedigree has been clear against O'Sullivan.
"The Rocket" held a 6-2 lead over his opponent after Thursday's action, improving his fine work in this semi-final with high breaks of 112 and 106 to establish a stranglehold over last year's beaten finalist.
His challenger did end the session in as strong a fashion as he could have hoped for, however, notching a century break of his own with a 106.
That was the third of three frames Hawkins managed to take in the last four of the session, having initially found himself on the end of a 10-2 deficit. Even with that positive sign-off, though, it would take an unthinkable comeback against resolute opposition to revive his hopes.
The pair resume their matchup on Friday evening, when O'Sullivan will seek to claim the six remaining frames needed to book his place in the final. The winner will face either Mark Selby or Neil Robertson for the trophy.
May 1, Evening Session
Mark Selby 5-3 Neil Robertson
It was a predictably tight and cagey first session between these two players, but it is Mark Selby that goes to bed on Thursday night with a lead over Neil Robertson in their World Championship semi-final.
With both men in fine form coming into the match, it was always going to be a close affair and the opening frames on Thursday bore that out. Selby took the first with a smart break of 65 and then made 54 in the next but conspired to lose the frame. A miss on the final red allowed the Aussie to clear up and level the match.
The next two frames were shared as well, but it was Selby who had the crowd in raptures as he produced a stunning 133 clearance in the fourth.
That imperious break seemed to spur on the Jester from Leicester, and he went on to win the next three frames, notching a break of 72 in the seventh to guarantee an overnight lead. The pressure was on Robertson to reduce the deficit before the end of the session, and he did just that with a flawless 130 to stay within two of his opponent.
Selby had said before his semi-final encounter with Robertson that he was reaching his peak, something that is hard to argue with after an excellent first session – per Leicester Mercury:
I feel like I'm gradually getting better as the tournament goes on, which is always a good sign as you don't want to peak too early and fade away.
This, of course, is just the first of four sessions and the two will return to the Crucible stage on Friday afternoon for the second. Neil Robertson had begun this match as the favourite with the bookmakers, but having forged an early two-frame lead, Selby has prompted a rethink.
May 1, Afternoon Session
Barry Hawkins 2-6 Ronnie O’Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan continued his stellar 2014 World Championship form by taking the early initiative in his semi-final match against Barry Hawkins.
The Rocket has breezed past Robin Hull, Joe Perry and Shaun Murphy so far, with a slight wobble against Perry the only time he’s really broken a sweat; and he looks like making light work of Hawkins after a superb first session.
The Hawk looked in good shape after establishing a 2-1 lead early on, but O’Sullivan hit back to win the next five frames on the spin and take a convincing 6-2 lead. His highlight was a break of 108 in the seventh frame, where he once again demonstrated why he’s the best break-builder in the business, showing sensational variety on the way to his century.
Hawkins has been in fine form in this year’s World Championship, but looked out of sorts against The Rocket, missing easy pots and making positional errors throughout.
Following his quarter-final victory over Murphy, O’Sullivan said that the way he intimidates opponents makes winning matches that little bit easier—per Hector Nunns of the Mirror:
I do feel like I intimidate people and, if I get going, I put pressure on my opponent. It’s not the name, it’s what you do on the table. That’s what can happen as a top player and, as Stephen Hendry used to say, it is an advantage.
Hawkins now needs to make sure that he keeps his focus against the world-famous Rocket; but the five-time world champion is looking to bully his way to six if he keeps this up.
The pair will return to action on Friday morning, with just three sessions remaining before one of them will progress to the final.
Will we be seeing a back-to-back finalist in Hawkins, or a back-to-back-to-back finalist in O’Sullivan? On the evidence of Thursday’s play, it would be hard to bet against The Rocket.