Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Joe Perry 10-7 in the final of the Dafabet Masters to become the first player to take the title seven times.
The Rocket had previous shared the record of six with Stephen Hendry but now stands alone with one more crown, after coming from 4-1 down to win nine of the last 12 frames against under-dog Perry at Alexandra Palace.
O’Sullivan received a cheque for £200,00 and lifted the Paul Hunter Trophy which was named after Hunter for the first time, in memory of the three-time Masters winner who died in 2006.
Chigwell’s O’Sullivan has now won 17 Triple Crown titles in total, with five wins apiece at the World and UK Championships, which is one behind Hendry’s record of 18.
World number 13 O’Sullivan won his first piece of silverware since the Welsh Open last February, having lost in the final of the European Masters, Champion of Champions and UK Championship this season.
In fact he has produced his best snooker only in spells this week – notably in his semi-final win over Marco Fu on Saturday – but, at the age of 41, O’Sullivan remains a formidable force, particularly in London where most of the 2,000-strong crowd get behind him. This was his 12th Masters final in all and ninth since 2004.
It was also a landmark week for Perry as he reached the final of a Triple Crown event for the first time, albeit one which finished in disappointment as he failed to capitalise on his early dominance. The 42-year-old from Chatteris receives £90,000, his second biggest career pay day after the £100,000 he banked for winning the 2015 Players Championship.
It was 4-4 at the end of the first session then O’Sullivan won a scrappy opening frame tonight to go ahead for the first time. That gave him a momentum boost and he sailed through the next three frames with top breaks of 68, 56 and 85 to lead 8-4.
Perry’s resistance appeared to be fading at that stage, having lost seven frames in a row, but the world number nine found new impetus after the interval and fired runs of 117 and 92 to close to 8-6. And he had a chance early in the next but missed a tricky opening red along the top cushion. O’Sullivan punished him with a superb 112 to get to the brink of victory.
Frame 17 came down to a safety exchange on the last red. Perry went full-blooded for a pot to a baulk corner but it missed its target and that proved his last shot as O’Sullivan cleared to cross the winning line.
“That’s probably the best win I’ve had in my life,” said O’Sullivan. “Given the circumstances with my cue tip (which he had to change during his match with Fu). Yesterday it played fantastic, today I couldn’t do much with it. I just managed to hold it together under the most extreme pressure. I couldn’t play three quarters of the shots that I wanted to. I just had to hang in there and I’m proud I was able to do that.
“Joe’s a fantastic player. You don’t get to the final of the Masters without being a really top quality player. Even if everything had gone well for me, I’d still have had a massive match on my hands.
“I’m not really into history and records. I just like to play, I just like to enjoy. I don’t want to stop at seven title. I just want to keep enjoying playing the sport that I’ve played for a long time.
“I’m over the moon to still be competing. I don’t expect to be the best player in the world because I don’t play as much as the other guys. I’ve done everything there is to do in the game. I’ve got nothing to prove. I just enjoy competing at tournaments, getting up in the morning and putting the practice in. I love a challenge. I will keep going until the wheels come off.
“Paul Hunter was a legend of the game. A beautiful guy, loved by all the players. I always say if he is looking down on us, we love you very much. You’re not forgotten. It’s great that this tournament is named after Paul. I’m just so happy to have put my name on that trophy.”
Perry said: “I’m a little bit disappointed. I enjoyed every minute of it. I got Ronnie on the day you want to get him on. He wasn’t in full flow today, but it just goes to show the way his mind is now, and his all round game is good.
“I just missed the boat a bit at 4-1. I didn’t start seeing the winning line or anything but the pressure switched and I didn’t handle it very well. I came out tonight in the same sort of vein. That was the worst four frames I’d played all week. The interval came at a good time. I got my head back on it and really enjoyed the conclusion of the match. I was just a fraction away from making it 9-8 – and then who knows.”