O'Sullivan: “I enjoyed the battle. When I play snooker, I feel young in the head. I've been knocking about 20 years. As long as I still feel young at the table, I don't think age is a problem.” . Experience helps me, I have a lot of it. I'm probably a better all-rounder than I've ever been.”
23:03 UK Sunday 21 January 2024
Ronnie O'Sullivan went from 4-0 down to beat Judd Trump 10-7 in the World Grand Prix final to extend his amazing run to 14 straight matches and three titles in a row.
In a golden period dating back to November, O'Sullivan has won trophies at the UK Championship, the Masters and now this week's event in Leicester.
He also won the Shanghai Masters in September and, remarkably, at the age of 48, he could be approaching the best season of his career. He has taken his total of ranking titles to 41 – well clear of Stephen Hendry's 36th on the all-time list – and his prize money for the season is approaching £900,000.
In terms of standard, it was not a match that lived up to its billing, as the two best players of the season so far went up against each other. The highest break was just 74, while O'Sullivan won just one frame in his only visit – in contrast to his impressive display in his 6-1 defeat of Ding Junhui in Saturday's semi-final.
After a strong start, Trump was unable to capitalize on his early advantage, making mistakes at key moments as he let a 6-3 lead slip away and lost seven of the last eight frames.
Earlier in his career, O'Sullivan may have lacked the resilience to fight back without his A-game, but these days his mental toughness is a huge asset and, just like he did a week ago against Ali Carter in the Masters final, he got stronger as the night progressed.
The Rocket claimed the World Grand Prix title for the third time, having won it in 2018 and 2021. He extended his lead at the top of the world rankings and has now won his last three finals against Trump, losing seven of the first ten.
“I enjoyed it, I really did,” O'Sullivan said. “I was feeling a bit rough at the start of the week, then I bought an air fryer and a smoothie maker and started eating a bit better.
“I don't like eating junk food, it puts me in a funny place. As the week went on I started to feel better. I played some of my best snooker last night against Ding. It gave me confidence today because I knew I had to against Judd at least do something.
“He knocked me off the table at 4-0, I thought it might be an early night and work 10-1! I managed to tick off a few frames in the afternoon, 5-3 gave me a bit of optimism. he came out and thought ' just try it!'
“I enjoyed the fight. You have to fight Judd because he's a fighter. For me he is [Trump’s] this year's favorite of the World Cup. He is strong.
“When I play snooker, I feel young in my head. When I play, I knock about 20 years off. As long as I still feel young at the table, I don't think age is really a problem. Experience helps me, I have a lot.
“I've won a lot of tournaments, I've traveled the world, I've learned a lot about the game. I think I'm probably a better all-around player than I've ever been.”
Bristol-based Trump, 34, won £40,000 as runner-up but lost his career-high 27th and fourth of the season when he won three in a row in October during his own purple patch that spanned 22 consecutive victories.
Trump led 5-3 after the first meeting and extended his advantage in the first frame of the evening when he broke 66, then wrapped it up after O'Sullivan missed a heavy pot in the final brown.
Breaks of 58, 56 and 75 gave O'Sullivan the start of a comeback as he closed at 6-5. In the 12th frame, Trump led 57-30 when he played a weak safety on the last red, giving his opponent a chance to play in the middle pot and clearly tie the match.
After the break, O'Sullivan's run of 52 points helped him take the lead for the first time. He was 51-0 up in the 14th frame when he missed the red into the top corner and Trump was on the verge of a superb clearance until he left a tricky pot in the jaws on the final black, allowing O'Sullivan to go 8-6 up.
In the 15th minute Trump had a chance to clear again, after an excellent sweat on the last red, but a heavy cut on the brown rattled a baulk in the corner pocket and stayed over the skirt and he was soon three down with four.
After losing six frames in a row, Trump pulled one back with 73 to 9-7. In frame 17, O'Sullivan hit a 52 before missing the red in the corner with the winning line just a few pots away.
Trump could clear but lost position on the yellow, then misjudged the fuse and left it close to the pocket. The full house at the Morningside Arena rose and applauded O'Sullivan as he turned on the colors to secure the title.
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