Ronnie O’Sullivan apologised to fans for the “most awful standard of snooker” after defeating Barry Hawkins to reach the Masters semi-finals.
The seven-time champion overcame the Hawk 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the last four of snooker’s most prestigious invitational event for the 15th time.
However, O’Sullivan was well below par for large periods of a contest littered with errors by both players, notably suffering an uncharacteristic miscue in frame six.
Thankfully for the Rocket, he went relatively unpunished by the two-time runner-up who, despite twice coming from behind to lead 3-2, was unable to capitalise on his opponent’s sloppy play.
The world number one produced two important clearances to edge his nose back in front, while further breaks of 60 and 77 saw him over the line.
“I just feel sorry for Barry,” he said. “He was playing good until I just dragged him down to the most awful standard of snooker, so I’m really sorry about that today. I’m just lucky to get through really.
“I think I just have this ability with most players where if I play bad, they play even worse.”
Hawkins, who has now lost 18 of his 20 meetings with O’Sullivan – including a humiliating 10-1 rout in the 2016 Masters final – was left to wonder what might have been.
“I felt good going into the game and I felt good out there,” he said. “But for some reason, your mind wanders a little bit when you play Ronnie. I let him off the hook a little bit. I had enough chances.
“I kept losing the white today. You can’t keep potting your way out of trouble, especially when you’re playing with side to get back in position.”
O’Sullivan is back in action on Saturday, when he will play either Shaun Murphy or Jack Lisowski for a place in the final.
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