Ronnie O’Sullivan delivered a performance worthy of the hot favourite for the European Masters as he crushed Tom Ford 5-1.
With the likes of Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, John Higgins and Mark Selby crashing out, O’Sullivan was installed as hot favourite to take the title for a second time.
If all favourites won, bookmakers would not be driving round in flash cars. But O’Sullivan moved to within two matches of living up to the billing after mauling Ford.
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O’Sullivan has seemed in a positive frame of mind in Milton Keynes this week, and talked about feeling like Superman when in the zone.
It wasn’t quite Man of Steel levels, but it was pretty good as breaks of 136, 109, 90 and a couple of steals from behind hammered nails into Ford’s coffin.
O’Sullivan is arguably the finest to pick up a cue, but even the greats welcome slices of luck. He got one in the first, as a red hit the jaw of the left middle and clung to the rail before dropping in the yellow pocket.
He cashed in, splitting the pack - with the reds placed as if he had moved them by hand for a practice session - and racing through break of 136.
A run of 90 in the second left Ford cold in his seat, and it looked set to be a similar story in the third but a miscue on a black handed a chance to his opponent.
Ford did not take advantage, as he missed a tough red into the yellow pocket with the rest and O’Sullivan cleared the colours to steal and open up a three-frame advantage.
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The underdog had half an eye on a 147 in the fourth after knocking in nine reds and eight blacks. He lost position potting the ninth black, and crucially missed the following red.
O’Sullivan emerged from his seat and delivered the sort of steal his fellow class of ‘92 alum Higgins would have been proud of to open up a four-frame cushion.
Ford came into the match having lost all five of his previous meetings with O’Sullivan.
He looked like a beaten man before the interval, but battled hard in the frame upon the resumption. He had a chance to pinch the frame after knocking in a tough red, and stopped the bleeding with a good clearance.
It proved to be the briefest of revivals as O’Sullivan cashed in on a Ford safety error to take the sixth with his seventh century of the week and secure his place in an 87th ranking semi-final.
Up next for O’Sullivan is Liang Wenbo who was hugely emotional after sealing a 5-4 win over Anthony McGill.
Liang rallied from behind and after trailing in the decider he let out a yell of “come on” when not over the winning line.
A tough pink followed, but he steeled himself to find the bottom of the pocket.
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