Ronnie O’Sullivan came from a first session 5-4 deficit to beat Neil Robertson and reach the Shanghai Masters final, where he will meet Shaun Murphy on Sunday.
The Rocket won 10-6 to extended his three-year unbeaten run in the Shanghai Masters, where he picked up the titles in 2017 and 2018. Last year he came out on top in a thrilling final with Barry Hawkins 11-9 to win the first running of the event since a format switch made it the most lucrative invitational tournament in the sport. He has now won 14 consecutive matches in the event.
This year it will be Murphy standing in his way as he bids to pick up the £200,000 top prize. They will do battle over the best of 21 frames and two sessions tomorrow for the title, with Murphy contesting his first ever Shanghai Masters final.
Defeat will come as a tough pill to swallow for Australia’s Robertson, who was dealt a bitter blow in the opening session when he damaged his tip miscuing a yellow. Despite that setback he did emerge from the afternoon’s play with a 5-4 advantage.
In the first session, with O’Sullivan leading 3-2, Robertson miscued when attempting a yellow in the sixth frame and damaged his tip to the extent of losing a chunk from it. That caused a temporary suspension to play as Robertson assessed the damage. He decided to play on with the same tip and claimed three of the remaining four frames in the session.
O’Sullivan took the opening frame on the final ball after a sublime clearance of 47, which ended with a cross doubled pink and a difficult cut back black.
Triple crown winner Robertson responded immediately with a break of 107 to get his first frame on the board. The Rocket then regained the lead, before Robertson composed his second century of the match with a break of 101 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.
Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan claimed the first frame after the interval, before Robertson once again drew level despite encountering tip trouble in frame six. A contribution of 52 helped O’Sullivan to move 4-3 up. However, Robertson drew level and moved to the front for the first time with a superb contribution of 129 to end the session 5-4 ahead.
When they came out in the evening session five-time World Champion O’Sullivan took a tight opening frame after a further miscue from Robertson when on a break of 42 allowed the Englishman to restore parity.
Crucially Robertson then missed a difficult final black along the top cushion when attempting to clear up and steal the next frame. That ended his run on 51 and allowed O’Sullivan the simplest of pots to move 6-5 up.
A break of 87 then made it 7-5, before O’Sullivan claimed the final frame before the mid-session to go 8-5 ahead. A century run of 102 put him within a frame of victory when they returned.
Robertson stoically fought on and got his first frame of the evening to make it 9-6. However, O’Sullivan wrapped up his win in the following frame with a sumptuous break of 134.