Ronnie O’Sullivan sealed a fourth consecutive Shanghai Masters title with a thrilling 11-9 victory over Luca Brecel in the final on Sunday.
O’Sullivan continued his dominance of the prestigious invitational as he landed a fifth title at the Grand Stage since 2009 and extended his unbeaten run at the event to 19 matches.
The world number one gained a degree of revenge over Brecel for his Quarter-Final defeat in the World Championship in April as he scooped the lucrative £210,000 top prize.
O’Sullivan had established a 6-4 lead following the first session but only for Brecel to peg back to parity at seven apiece.
O’Sullivan then reeled off the next three frames to move to the brink of victory, but a dramatic 18th frame was won on the black by Brecel – who went on to claim the following frame to trail 10-9.
The Rocket, however, held firm to avert the need for a decider and clinch glory in his first competitive outing of the season.
“It was one of those tournaments. I was well below par, but in moments I played alright when I had to. I wasn’t on auto pilot, everything was a bit of a struggle from start to finish,” O’Sullivan told WST.
“When you’re in the sweet spot and hitting the ball well it feels like an easy game, it feels like you can do what you want on the table. When you aren’t, you get scared of even coming to the table – it’s frightening.
“This game can be so difficult some days and others it can be so easy. I’ve gone two or three years without feeling that I’d missed a ball. I was flying. There were some balls out there that I was missing and I was laughing to myself.
“I’m not surprised Luca has done as well as he has, he’s not a surprise World Champion. He’s got an amazing gift to play this game.
“He has improved a lot as a player and he loves the game, I wish I was at his stage of his career. He’s a young man with a lot of years ahead of him. Snooker is getting bigger in China so it is a good time to be a professional snooker player.”
After O’Sullivan had won the opening frame, Brecel got off the mark in emphatic fashion with a break of 134.
O’Sullivan replied with back-to-back frames to lead 3-1, but only for the Belgian to reel off three in a row with breaks of 75, 98 and 103.
That pattern continued as O’Sullivan responded with three unanswered frames of his own, including a break of 78, to lead 6-4 going into the second session.
Brecel snatched the opening frame of the evening with a superb 65 clearance, before a 52 break saw O’Sullivan restore a two-frame advantage.
Successive breaks of 55 and 56 saw the reigning World Champion haul himself back on level terms at seven-all, but that sparked a timely burst from O’Sullivan after the interval as he took frame 15 before firing in stunning breaks of 143 and 120 to move clear at 10-7.
A remarkable moment then saw Brecel produce a tremendous double on the final black to edge frame 18 and keep his hopes alive after O’Sullivan had missed the final pink.
The world number two followed in with a rapid break of 83 to apply further pressure, but could not force a decider as O’Sullivan dragged himself over the line in the following frame to secure a 37th career non-ranking title.
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