Record-breaking Ronnie O’Sullivan completed his 1,000th century break in fairy-tale fashion to retain the Players Championship title in Preston.
O’Sullivan, who claimed his first ranking title at the Preston Guild Hall in 1993, produced another landmark moment at the famous venue 26 years later as he fired in his 1,000th ton to wrap up a 10-4 victory over Neil Robertson in the final.
The five-time World Champion ended with a 134 break, potting the decisive red left-handed, to secure his 35th career ranking title to leave him just one adrift of Stephen Hendry’s record tally.
“You never play that well unless you know you have to,” O’Sullivan told ITV Sport.
“I knew I had to play well and I did all week. To cap it off with 1,000 centuries is great.
“It was nice to share it with an opponent I have a lot of respect for.
“As far as human beings go, he’s probably the nicest human being on the circuit so for me that means more; snooker’s lucky to have someone like Neil playing the game.
“This is one of the best venues we get to play in and when you put top quality players in top quality venues, you’ll get top quality snooker.
“To me, it’s just what I do. Ever since I was 7 or 8 I love playing snooker and potting balls, I love the game.
“To share it with the fans here in Preston and all over the world, this is done for every snooker fan in the world.”
O’Sullivan raced into a 4-0 lead with breaks of 67, 66, 70 and 65 and went on to open up a 7-2 advantage at the close of play in the afternoon session, compiling century number 998 (116) in the sixth frame and 999 (105) in frame nine.
Robertson began the evening session in style with a break of 120 but only for ‘The Rocket’ to hit back immediately with a 90 to make it 8-3.
The pair then exchanged frames as O’Sullivan moved to the verge of victory before bringing the house down with a tremendous break of 134 to complete the feat and clinch the title.
His hesitation prior to potting the decisive red had fans’ pulses racing, but he calmly stroked it home with his opposite hand to prompt jubilant scenes.
Robertson, appearing in his fourth final of the season, did at least grab an additional £5,000 consolation as O’Sullivan went in-off on the final black for what would have been the highest break of the tournament over the Australian’s 140.
“Throughout the whole match I think I only missed three balls that really mattered, two of them were extremely difficult,” said Robertson.
“I don’t feel as though he took my game apart, I feel as though he took the table apart.
“Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and say very well played to Ronnie – he was outstanding today.
“He must either hate my guts or have a lot of respect for my game to play like that against me!”
Both players will now feature in the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month, a new tournament consisting solely of the top eight players from the one-year ranking list.