Ronnie O’Sullivan is just six frames away from a record-equalling seventh title at the World Championship after blowing Judd Trump away to lead the final 12-5.
After the drama and controversy of Sunday’s first session, which saw O’Sullivan and referee Olivier Martell have an extraordinary spat, the second was a more sedate affair.
Both players made sluggish starts but while O’Sullivan soon found his groove, Trump’s game was littered with mistakes throughout. Trump rarely looked like the player that soared to the 2019 title and dominated the sport during the Covid pandemic, instead cutting a jaded figure as the toils from his bruising semi-final win over Mark Williams appeared to take their toll.
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Trump will have to produce his greatest performance if he is to have any chance of staging one of the great Crucible comebacks. The pair return on Monday afternoon (13:00 BST) for eight more frames, with Trump needing at least three to ensure the tournament showdown heads to the final session (19:00 BST).
After the ninth frame began with a stalemate and hasty re-rack, Trump pounced on an O’Sullivan miss to take it in one visit with a tidy knock of 73. From being 5-1 down, suddenly it was 5-4 and the momentum was his. Or so it seemed.
Another re-rack brought an end to an unusual start to the 10th which saw all the reds clustered towards the bottom right pocket. When the action resumed, Trump botched a safety to leave O’Sullivan in the balls and although he needed two bites, the Rocket produced knocks of 66 and 50 to restore his two-frame lead.

Watch O’Sullivan’s fine 118 break in full

While most of his game had seemingly deserted him, Trump’s long potting showed signs of life as he arrowed a terrific red home to hint at a revival, only to throw away his good work when he missed a simple black. O’Sullivan swooped in, keeping the white on a leash to make his third century of the match, a 118, to move three clear.
It was a similar story in the 12th frame. Trump made a delicious three-ball plant to get in and then blew a routine black to invite his opponent back to the table. Another high-scoring break, this time a 97, and it was 8-4 at the interval.
Trump knew he would have to win at least three of the remaining five frames to keep O’Sullivan honest, but his hopes continued to unravel as a woeful long pot attempt saw the red crash halfway up the side cushion. It was clear the extra 14 frames he had played compared to his rival were having an effect, with O’Sullivan stepping in to extend his lead to five and ensure he would have the lead overnight. But with four frames still on the menu, how big would it be?

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Trump’s first pot in 27 minutes awoke his pocket of fans in the Crucible and he soon had a scoring chance when O’Sullivan’s gamble on a tricky cut on the black backfired. It was an opportunity you felt Trump had to take. He didn’t.
O’Sullivan was finding his cue tip more competition than Trump by this stage, with the 46-year-old pausing to chisel away at it with sandpaper en route to an 87 break that made it 10-4.
After making just 57 points across the previous five frames, Trump desperately needed a good run and he belatedly found it with a brilliant 80 to end O’Sullivan’s five-frame streak.
The final frame of the evening saw Trump threaten to cut the gap to five, but after unleashing his rage on a red – sending it fizzing into the pocket with venom – he soon found the jaws to let O’Sullivan back in. There was still work to do, but O’Sullivan produced a classy clearance of 88 to establish a seven-frame advantage ahead of Monday’s finale.
O’Sullivan was top in every category – total points (1212 v 629), pot success (94% v 84%), long pot success (65% v 55%) and safety success (79% v 78%) – and unless Trump improves drastically, those with tickets to the fourth session may be left severely disappointed.
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