O’Sullivan joins snooker royalty as he equals Davis record in York

Ronnie O'Sullivan kisses the trophy after winning the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.
Ronnie O'Sullivan kisses the trophy after winning the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.
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Ronnie O’Sullivan insisted chasing records does not concern him despite equalling Steve Davis’s Betway UK Championship winning total with victory over Shaun Murphy.

This was the first time O’Sullivan and Murphy had faced off in a ranking tournament final and five consecutive frames in the second session helped hand the former a stunning 10-5 victory.

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Shaun Murphy at the table.

Ronnie O'Sullivan and Shaun Murphy at the table.

O’Sullivan is now level with Davis for UK Championship titles (six) and also tied with Stephen Hendry for highest number of triple crowns tournament wins (18).

But O’Sullivan is not concerned by records and just wants to be as professional as possible.

He said: “I just did a job and wanted to be a professional. I wanted to ignore how I had been playing and focus on the match.

“I’m not really that bothered. It’s just nice to win another title I suppose. Maybe I should be feeling happier than I am.”

Murphy admitted before the contest that he would have to be at his best to get his hands on the trophy at the Barbican, York.

He made the perfect start, pristinely cleaning up with a century break of 123 to clinch the first frame.

O’Sullivan has not been at his bruising best, but was showing exactly why he is the one to watch on the big occasion, rattling off two breaks of 62 and a 103 as the pair went into the session break at 4-4.

O’Sullivan became a completely different animal in the second session though as he collected two century breaks and five successive frames to clinch the title.

He first won the title as a teenager and the 42-year-old, who pocketed another £170,000 for this latest victory, believes this could be a time for the older players to shine.

He said: “It’s becoming a seniors tour now. Maybe snooker is becoming an old man’s game now. You never know. It was a young man’s game in the 1990s and maybe these days it’s an old man’s game.

“You can’t win titles if you’re at 70 or 80 per cent and I’m a little surprised that I won to be honest, but I’ll take it.

“I’ve been doing this for too long now and I don’t even get excited, which is the crazy thing.

“I just love playing and competing.

“I just can’t believe I’m still playing at 42 with all these grey hairs, I’m old enough to be some of these players’ dads.”

Murphy, however, believes O’Sullivan can go on to surpass Hendry’s 36 ranking title event wins.

He said: “I think Ronnie can go on for as long as he wants. He’s the fittest guy around, he’s the most talented guy around. As long as he wants to keep playing snooker I don’t see why there is anything to stop him.

“In the modern era when the standard is vastly better than it was in the ‘80s and ‘90s, to still be competing, to still be winning majors, to now have equalled the record against people who are so much better than they ever were in snooker’s perceived heyday is a massive feather in his cap.

“He is the best player we have ever seen and I think whilst he keeps enjoying playing we’ve all got the pleasure of watching him for many years to come.”

This was Murphy’s third ranking title event final of the season and, despite losing, the 35-year-old is delighted with how his season has gone with the Scottish Open still to come this week.

He added “I thought the better man won by far and you know when you play Ronnie O’Sullivan over the distance, in fact in any match, your game has to be the best it possibly can be.

“He’s the greatest player we have ever seen and unfortunately, for whatever reason, my game wasn’t good enough.

“I felt 10-5 doesn’t necessarily reflect the match as a whole, I thought the match was a lot closer than that.

“I’m not the world’s best tactical snooker player and he exposed those weaknesses as true legends do.

“The positives drastically outweigh the negatives. I’ll be a little bit sore on the train up to Glasgow thinking about what could have been, but I can’t do anything about it and I’ll be trying my best next week.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan will begin the defence of his Masters title against Hong Kong’s Marco Fu at Alexandra Palace in January.

The draw was made in York on Sunday and Murphy was handed a tie against Ali Carter, with world No 1 Mark Selby drawn to face two-time winner Mark Williams.

Sheffield-based Ding Junhu – who bowed out in the first round of the UK Championship – will look to get his season back on track when he takes on Welshman Ryan Day.

Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen will face a tricky opening match against in-form Luca Brecel in London.

First-round pairings: Mark Allen v Luca Brecel, Barry Hawkins v Kyren Wilson, Mark Selby v Mark Williams, John Higgins v Anthony McGill, Ding Junhui v Ryan Day, Shaun Murphy v Ali Carter, Judd Trump v Liang Wenbo, Ronnie O’Sullivan v Marco Fu.