Rocket Soars To Eighth Masters Crown

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Ronnie O’Sullivan became MrQ Masters champion for the eighth time in his career, after beating Ali Carter 10-7 in a thrilling final at Alexandra Palace.

At 48 years old, victory sees O’Sullivan surpass Stuart Bingham as the oldest ever Masters champion. Bingham was 43 when he defeated Carter in the 2020 final. That means O’Sullivan is now the oldest winner of all three Triple Crown events.

After his win at the UK Championship in December, O’Sullivan has now given himself an opportunity to capture all three Triple Crown titles in a single season for the first time in his career. He will achieve that feat if he wins the World Championship at the Crucible in May.

It’s a record extending eighth Masters triumph for the Rocket, who surpassed Stephen Hendry’s previous record of six when he defeated Joe Perry in 2017. He’s now won an unparalleled 23 Triple Crown titles, five clear of Hendry’s 18.

German Masters champion Carter suffers his fourth defeat in four Triple Crown finals. As well as today’s result, and his loss to Bingham four years ago, he was runner-up in two Crucible finals to O’Sullivan in 2008 and 2012. Carter leaves North London with the consolation of the £100,000 runner-up prize.

The evening session began with Carter holding a 5-3 advantage, after emerging ahead following a rapid afternoon of play. He took the opener this evening to extend his cushion to three frames at 6-3.

At that point the Rocket hit the after burners, making breaks of 58, 64 and 53 on his way to three on the bounce and parity at 6-6. The pair then went in for the mid-session interval, which appeared to come at the right time for Carter, who needed to wrest back momentum.

When play resumed, Carter regained his foothold in the tie, crafting a sublime 127 to edge back in front at 7-6. That century was his ninth of the tournament, which is a new record for the event. It moved Carter ahead of O’Sullivan who made eight in 2007 and 2009.

O’Sullivan responded by controlling the 14th to draw level once more. There was then a dramatic frame which swung back and forth, before Carter crucially overcut a pink to the middle. That allowed O’Sullivan to pounce and hit the front for the first time since the opening frame of the match.

The 40-time ranking event winner then compounded that mistake from Carter with a steely 89 to move one from victory at 9-7. Carter had a number of chances in the 17th, but failed to make any count, with the Rocket getting himself over the line for yet another momentous victory and the £250,000 top prize.

“I don’t know how I’ve won this tournament to be honest with you. I’ve just dug deep. I’ve tried to play with a bit of freedom and tonight I just thought I had to try to keep Ali honest. If he was going to win it, he was going to have to scrape me off the table. I just wanted to see if he had it at the end. That was what I was thinking coming into the evening session, could he get over the line?”

O’Sullivan added: “Ali didn’t play great tonight. He played better this afternoon, but tonight he let me off the hook a few times. He was aggressive today, but tonight he didn’t take on some of the balls I thought he might take on. That just gave me a little bit of breathing space and I did what I could and I tried to make the most and see what happened.

“I’ve had an amazing career. I love playing and I love competing. The crowd have always been good to me over the years. That is the one thing that I take from my career, the support that I’ve had all around the world. Not just here in London. To all the snooker fans out there. Thank you for your support over the years. I’ll keep trying until I can’t pot any more balls.”

Carter said: “It was a good week. I’m gutted I lost the final. It is all about winning at the end of the day. Before I rocked up here last week I’d have taken the final. There’s a lot of good things to come for me and I’m heading in the right direction.”

Article by WST.