O’Sullivan looking to ‘ruin careers’ in UK Championship final with Ding Junhui | Snooker – Freedom Voice


Ronnie O’Sullivan says he is motivated by the opportunity to “ruin the careers” of his major rivals after he breezed into the ninth UK Championship final of his career with a 6-2 win over Hossein Vafaei in York.

Thirty years after he first won the title as a 17-year-old in 1993, O’Sullivan will face Ding Junhui on Sunday seeking to win a record-extending eighth crown and to shut the Chinese player out from building his own collection of silverware.

“I’m just hanging around so people don’t get as good as a career as me,” joked O’Sullivan, who exploited a series of costly errors from his Iranian opponent to seal by far his most comfortable victory of a gruelling week.

“If I could stop (Mark) Selby winning a few, and Judd (Trump) winning a few, and Ding and (Neil) Robertson winning a few, just ruin their careers a little bit, that would be great. Sometimes that’s just a nice motivation to play.”

The 47-year-old O’Sullivan had laboured through consecutive final-frame deciders against Robert Milkins and Zhou Yuelong, and while he looked more clear-headed throughout their semi-final, his dominance was due in part to an underwhelming performance from Vafaei, for whom errors in five of the six frames won by his opponent served up a disappointingly one-sided encounter.

Vafaei ran aground on a break of 30 in the opener and O’Sullivan swept up with a break of 54 before a 113 in the second frame put him firmly in command. Vafaei showed a glimmer of fight as his eighth century of the tournament started the charge back level, but O’Sullivan took an error-strewn fifth and restored his two-frame lead after Vafaei missed a shockingly easy red to the middle.

O’Sullivan jawed a shot to the same pocket in the next, but a missed black off its spot brought more pain for Vafaei and when he missed the same colour to the top pocket in the eighth frame, the Iranian’s hopes of reaching a first major career final were over.

“I feel as fresh as a daisy,” added a revitalised O’Sullivan. “These tournaments are not a problem. I can do it quite comfortably. I’m still happy to have got this far, it’s great and I have enjoyed my week”

Ding overcame Judd Trump 6-4 in the evening semi-final to seal his final place in York for the second consecutive year. He lost to 10-7 to Mark Allen in last year’s showpiece after leading 6-1 at one stage. Sunday’s clash will see a repeat of last year’s UK quarter-final, when Ding dealt out a rare 6-0 whitewash to O’Sullivan.

In the semi-final, Trump had started well with two centuries in the first eight frames but he could not shake off the dogged Ding, with the pair locked together at 4-4 before Ding nudged through a tense ninth to put himself one frame from victory.

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Trump had the first chance to stretch the tie into another decider but jawed a relatively simple red to middle and Ding stepped in with a nerveless 84 clearance to black, including a stunning long red after straying out of position, to seal his swift return in the final.

Ding, who routinely saves his best form for York, admitted such a scenario had seemed impossible when he was ailing midway through his first-round match against Allen. “A lot of fans were watching and I just wanted to finish it – it didn’t matter how well I played, maybe I lost and would go home, I’d just try my best,” he said.

Of his win over Trump, Ding added: “It was a very tough match and the last few reds were a bit scrappy, but to pot that long red and go on to win the frame is saying something to myself. I hadn’t seen myself playing like that for a long time.”

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