Ronnie O’Sullivan reeled off seven frames in succession to move to the brink of joining Steve Davis and Ray Reardon as a six-time world champion at the Crucible.
O’Sullivan cut a completely different figure to the frustrated and out-of-sorts star who had laboured to a 10-7 advantage at the end of the first day’s play, and will return for Sunday’s evening session leading Kyren Wilson 17-8 and requiring just one more frame for victory.
But ailing Wilson will have to concede he helped his opponent through his recuperation process having done the hard work of hitting back from 8-2 down to twice move close to reducing the deficit to just a single frame.
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Having emerged fresh and focused, Wilson hit a break of 73 to pull back to 10-8, but he missed a simple pink to the jaw in the next, and it was a painful pattern which would repeat itself as O’Sullivan reeled off seven frames in a row.
From 11-8, O’Sullivan potted the first six balls of a potential maximum but only extended his advantage after a faltering Wilson once again missed an opportunity to make him pay.
As the session wore on, O’Sullivan visibly relaxed and restored a fluidity to his game that had been sadly lacking in the opening two sessions of the final.
A break of 57 extended O’Sullivan’s advantage to 13-8 before the mid-session interval, after which the misery continued for Wilson. He came off worse in a safety exchange and O’Sullivan clinically cleaned up to green with a break of 60.
Wilson must have been craving the end of the session – and after O’Sullivan extended his streak to six frames with respective breaks of 71 and 72, the 28-year-old mistakenly believed it had come to an end.
In fact his agony had to stretch to another frame, which O’Sullivan suitably wrapped up to leave him requiring just one more frame this evening to wrap up another title win.