7th of May 2013 Author: Johnny Karp
Ronnie O'Sullivan won his fifth World Championship title with a spectacular 18-12 victory over Barry Hawkins, a more than worthy opponent for the reigning world champion. O'Sullivan played superbly, mastering a new record of six centuries in a Crucible final. World number 14 Hawkins played some quality snooker himself but in the end had to admit defeat.
O'Sullivan is only the third man to defend the title and his victory is even sweeter as it was achieved after an unlikely comeback. "That is the hardest anyone has pushed me," he said in paying tribute to a "brilliant tournament" from Hawkins. "I just couldn't get rid of him but I hung in there. It was a brilliant final and it was just good to be part of it."
The 37-year-old had played just one competitive match, which was last September, after taking some time away from the game following his fourth world title last year. Asked before the match what chance Hawkins had of beating O'Sullivan, seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry replied: "None."
But Hawkins, an 80-1 shot before the tournament started, was not outplayed on Sunday, playing his part in two high-quality sessions. O'Sullivan played some of his most fluent snooker of the tournament though, making four century breaks to surpass Hendry's previous record of 127 at the Crucible and take a 10-7 overnight lead. Hawkins got the first frame on Monday but O'Sullivan immediately fought back, bagging a break of 76 to make it 11-8. The next frame put O'Sullivan 12-8 up, but then Hawkins rallied with a break of 90 to make it 12-9.
A superb run of 133 in the next frame saw O'Sullivan become only the fourth player, after Hendry (1997), John Higgins (1998) and Matthew Stevens (2000), to make five tons in a Crucible final. Then O'Sullivan won frame 23 to go 14-9 ahead the final seemed as good as over. Hawkins didn't sit back though and he made it 14-10 thanks of a break of 67, but O'Sullivan hit back with a record-breaking clearance of 124. Hawkins then put in a nice run of 127 to bring the total of centuries in the final to a record-equalling eight, making it 15-11 before following up with a break of 66 for 15-12.
But O'Sullivan stepped up once again exactly when he needed it the most and knocked in a break of 77 for 16-12. Then a break of 88 left O'Sullivan needing just one more frame to win the match and he took it with a run of 86. "He is unbelievable," said Hawkins. "The way he makes it look so easy is frightening for most players, so I am glad I made a game of it and pushed him a bit. I tried my hardest but I just made a few more mistakes than Ronnie and you cannot afford to do that against him. It is a shame I lost, but Ronnie is by far the best player in the world."
The World Championship is now over but you can already prepare to bet on next year's event, here are the odds for the top favourites for 2014 at Bet365:
Ronnie O'Sullivan - 7/2
Judd Trump - 13/2
Mark Selby - 7/1
Neil Robertson - 7/1
Ding Junhui - 10/1
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