Dennis Taylor has led the tributes to Ronnie O'Sullivan after snooker's greatest player of all time produced one of his finest all-round displays in a 6-1 win over an open-mouthed Jack Lisowski in the Players Championship quarter-finals in Milton Keynes.
“It’s as if he is playing a different game," said the bamboozled world number 11 Lisowski, who compiled only 19 points in the first five frames at the Marshall Arena.
It’s not like playing any other opponent. I didn’t do a lot wrong. In fact I’m proud that I kept trying and avoided losing 6-0.
Lisowski edges out Carter in first round Crucible decider
O'Sullivan also left the 1985 world champion Taylor in awe of his natural ability as he missed only two balls in seven frames with free-flowing potting, tight tactical play and breaks of 63, 79, 124, 93, 125 and 59 in a blissful victory in only 78 minutes.
- 'I played alright!' Rampant O'Sullivan thrashes Lisowski
- Players Championship 2021: Draw, Schedule, Results
- All-time top 10: What are Ronnie O'Sullivan's greatest achievements?
Northern Irish icon Taylor wishes the late pioneering 15-times world champion Joe Davis had been alive to see how modern snooker has evolved, inspired by the "genius" of O'Sullivan in such "devastating" mood.
"Snooker used to be quite a difficult game," said Taylor, who won snooker's most famous match with his 18-17 world final win over Steve Davis on the final black 36 years ago.
I would have loved for the great Joe Davis to have seen the genius Ronnie O Sullivan make it look so easy. He would have loved watching him. Devastating against Jack Lisowski.
O'Sullivan will meet Barry Hawkins in the semi-finals on Friday night in a repeat of the 2013 world final and appears to be on course to claim a third Players Championship and £125,000 top prize on Sunday evening.
O'Sullivan enjoyed a pot success rate of 99%, slotting an astonishing 185 balls in 187 attempts and boasted an average shot time of only 16 seconds that left seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry – who returns to competitive action at next week's Gibraltar Open – comparing his cue to a "magic wand".
A stunned Lisowski – who has reached two ranking event finals this season, losing the World Grand Prix and German Masters to Judd Trump – bravely prevented the whitewash with knocks of 57 and 68 in the sixth frame, but was left largely out in the cold as a spectator with O'Sullivan treating millions of mesmerised viewers to a rerun of his greatest hits.
It invoked memories of his 6-0 clubbing of Ricky Walden in the 2014 Masters quarter-finals.
Walden made a break of 38 in the first frame before O'Sullivan laid waste to the table in only 58 minutes with breaks of 79, 88, 72, 134, 77 and 56 seeing him set a new record of 556 points without reply
This victory was of a similar vintage and makes you wonder how O'Sullivan, at 45 seemingly improving with age, managed to lose 9-8 to 750-1 outsider Jordan Brown in the Welsh Open final on Sunday.
The world number two revealed that lack of practice has made perfect since his 6-1 defeat to world number one Judd Trump in the World Grand Prix semi-finals in December.
"I was practising more before Christmas than after Christmas, but I got fed up with people saying he's not practising that's why he's missing balls," said O'Sullivan.
"But I was practising. Not six hours, but still two or three which is still quite a lot for me. Since I got beat in December, I put my cue down and did about three days practice before the Masters.
'Shot of the day?' - O'Sullivan sinks brilliant red to middle pocket
"I told everyone I was doing seven hours a day, and people were saying: 'Oh look, you can see the difference'.
It just shows you say one thing and people believe you. This game doesn't make sense. There is no rule book to what you should or shouldn't do.
“I got into the match early. I hit a little purple patch, but tomorrow the wheels could fall off and I might not pot a ball for three or four tournaments."
'The fans forced me to find something' - O'Sullivan on opening victory
'Harassed like you wouldn’t believe' – O'Sullivan on 'nightmare' fan