O’Sullivan in a world of his own as Crucible odds are slashed

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Ronnie O’Sullivan’s odds to win a sixth World Championship this April have been slashed to 5/4 after his latest rout at the Welsh Open.

Finally accepted as the best player to ever grace the game, the 38-year-old broke Stephen Hendry’s record of 11 maximums in the final frame to defeat Ding Junhui who would have matched another of the Scot’s legacies by winning five titles in the same season with victory.

O’Sullivan was only behind once in a match the entire week in Newport and defeat never looked in question having never let a contest go even close to the lottery of a deciding frame.

It has long been said that when he is fully focused the Essex man can win every tournament he enters and finally, and to the delight of the vast majority of snooker fans, these lofty, but always conceivable claims have come true.

And just in case the final 9-3 scoreline over the most statistically in-form player in the game wasn’t enough to exhibit his superiority, O’Sullivan literally secured the perfect finish with a maximum that looked destined a long way out – left-handed.

O’Sullivan’s ambidextrous ability has long been a feature of his enigmatic allure but there would have still been some not completely convinced – not now.

O’Sullivan joked afterwards that he “had” to pot the final and most difficult red left-handed as he had “…made 11 [maximums] right handed, so this counts as a left-handed 147. I couldn’t have got on the final black any better.”

Such was the confidence of the man that he could even afford himself an almost unbelieving smile with just a routine pink and black to come as the crowd and even Ding looked on in awe.

O’Sullivan has now won five of the last seven events he has entered including two World Championships and a fifth Masters.

Ding should also be highly credited, not only for another fantastic run but also for his reaction after his seventh consecutive defeat to the Rocket in meaningful matches.

The Chinese star, who is still only 26 despite being at the top of the game for many years, could only smile when O’Sullivan nailed the 147 and the match and delighted the crowds with a possibly accidentally wry “nice 147” comment at the end.

This was in complete contrast to when Ding was reduced to tears at the Crucible in 2007 when demolished by O’Sullivan and shows just how far he has come that he can accept another heavy defeat with such grace and ease.

O’Sullivan said himself that when he is “slowing down” he wants Ding to “take over” and that may well happen.

For now though there is one man above the parapet with Ding and others left to lead the masses below – long may it continue.

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