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Ronnie O’Sullivan’s top seven Masters Snooker moments

Jonathan Davies in The Masters

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John Parrott: My Perfect Player – The 1991 World Champion shares his selections

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On This Day: January 17, 2014 – Ronnie O’Sullivan produces ‘Snooker from the Gods’ at The Masters

O'Sullivan walks past the Masters trophy as he enters the Ally Pally arena (credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

O’Sullivan walks past the Masters trophy as he enters the Ally Pally arena (credit: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the most successful player in Masters history and has enjoyed some of the best moments of his career in the elite invitational.

The Rocket has appeared in 12 Masters finals since making his debut back in 1994 and has lost in the First Round on just three occasions, but never at Alexandra Palace.

His first triumph came at Wembley in 1995 with victory over John Higgins in the final and he was involved in one of the greatest matches in Masters history against his great rival Higgins eleven years later.

In 2017, he became the first player since Paul Hunter in 2002 to successfully retain the title and eclipsed Stephen Hendry’s tally of six Masters triumphs in the process.

Here is a selection of his greatest Masters moments…

73 clearance to stun Selby – 2016

O’Sullivan and Mark Selby have always enjoyed fascinating encounters whenever they have met, mainly due to their complete contrast in styles.

After ‘the Rocket’ had moved 5-2 ahead in their quarter-final showdown at the 2016 Masters, Selby was threatening to mount one of his trademark revivals as he pulled a frame back before knocking in a solid break of 70 in the ninth.

Despite running out of position and being forced into a safety, ‘the Jester’ must have thought he had cut the deficit to just one frame with 75 remaining and the balls not ideally situated for his opponent.

However, O’Sullivan, who’s long potting had been impeccable throughout the contest, had other ideas as he continued his successful surge for a record-equalling sixth title…

 

Yellow to equal all-time century record – 2015

All the talk surrounding the 2015 event at the Alexandra Palace was about whether Ronnie O’Sullivan would go on to break Stephen Hendry’s record of 775 century breaks in competitive play.

‘The Rocket’ moved himself onto 774 as he took a commanding 5-1 lead during his first-round match with Ricky Walden.

Despite a solid fightback by his opponent to trail just 5-4, O’Sullivan ran away with frame 10 and was on a run of 89 when he was forced into attempting the most audacious of flukes on the yellow, which was tight on the top cushion.

What happened next was truly sensational…

 

Breaking the all-time century record – 2015

O’Sullivan only had to wait until the very next frame that he played to surpass Hendry’s record and record his 776th career ton.

He achieved the feat by opening in style with a break of 101 during his quarter-final clash with Marco Fu, who joined in the rapturing round of applause after the Rocket sunk the decisive brown.

However, after appreciating the reception for his achievement, O’Sullivan was quick to remind them that it was only the opening frame of the match, which he would go on to win 6-1.

 

‘Snooker from the gods’ – 2014

A close match was expected when O’Sullivan was drawn to play Walden in the quarter-finals of the 2014 Masters.

It looked like that would be the case when the Chester cueist took a 39-1 lead in the opening frame, but a brilliant clearance of 79 sent O’Sullivan on the way to arguably the most one-sided victory in snooker history.

‘The Rocket’ reeled off the next five frames to complete a 6-0 whitewash in just under an hour, while scoring a record 556 unanswered points along the way.

This stunning 134 total clearance that presented itself following a fortunate swerved opening red was the pick of the lot…

 

Sportsmanship towards Ding – 2007

One of the Rocket’s many strengths is the ruthlessness he shows when taking a lead – making him one of, if not, the best front-runners in the game.

However, he drew plenty of plaudits during the 2007 final for the sportsmanship he showed towards teenage opponent Ding Junhui, who appeared to throw the towel in and was visibly upset by the partisan Wembley Arena crowd.

As O’Sullivan opened up a commanding 9-3 lead, Ding walked forward to shake his hand believing the contest to be over as he thought it was the best of 17 frames, and the two walked arm-in-arm out of the arena.

 

Forces Higgins to surrender – 2005

Although O’Sullivan had won multiple World and UK crowns come the 2005 event at the Wembley Conference Centre, his Masters cabinet was looking a little bare by his standards.

His sole title had come in 1995 – by this time, a whole decade earlier – but he set the record straight with a dominant performance against John Higgins in the final.

Despite falling 2-1 behind, the Rocket reeled off nine of the next 10 frames – making two centuries and a further seven breaks over 50 along the way – and a magnificent total clearance of 134 to round off a comprehensive victory saw Higgins attach his white towel to the top of his cue in a mark of pure admiration.

 

Quickfire 128 against Bond – 1996

The 20-year-old was the hottest young prospect in the game and had underlined his potential by winning snooker’s most prestigious invitational event the previous year.

As reigning champion, his defence threw up a highly entertaining clash with 1995 Crucible finalist Nigel Bond in the semi-finals, where eight frames were played in just over an hour to leave the players locked at 4-4.

It would not be until the 1997 World Championship that we would see O’Sullivan record that maximum break in five minutes and 20 seconds, but he certainly gave us a sneak preview of what was to come here…