Having done all his talking on the table, Ronnie O’Sullivan decided to do some more off it.
It is perhaps a pity that O’Sullivan’s media conference after his imperious 6-4 win over Marco Fu in the Masters semi-final – a victory he described as “probably his best win ever” – slightly marred a glorious snooker celebration of potting, break-building and cue ball control that was a privilege to witness.
Yet who is really complaining when O’Sullivan continues to provide box-office material with compulsive viewing and listening like this? Even with some industrial language peppering the freezing Ally Pally air, the Chigwell chap is always amusing in railing against the forces he feels are sent to try him.
The belief that referee Terry Camilleri and a photographer had interfered with his own sense of well-being during the match spilled over after the final handshakes had taken place.
O'Sullivan slams referee after Masters victory
It is no huge surprise that he is facing disciplinary action by governing body, the WPBSA, after sharing his forthright views with pundits Jimmy While and Neal Foulds on Eurosport before offloading to the assembled media.
Asked about the immaculate 69 break that secured his place in the final for a 12th time and the passionate fit of fist pumping that accompanied it, O’Sullivan did not cut a content figure.
“It was such a hard break because the reds were all over the table, and I had to move the white a lot,” he said.
“It wasn’t a straightforward break around the black to start creating. I was up and down the table a lot, then I had the guy taking pictures at the wrong time.
Is that him there? You are a f******g nightmare, mate. At snooker matches, you have got to learn to sit still, know what I mean. I’m looking at you and I'm trying to hit a ball...you don’t know the etiquette (to photographer). I had this dude to deal with, hopefully he’s learnt his lesson and knows you should wait until the shot is over.
“There was a lot going on out there. You are lucky if you get all that going on in your career, and I’ve had all that going on in the space of one match."
Losing his cue tip after the third frame, before almost 2,000 pro-Ronnie fans, prompted O’Sullivan’s frustration, but that was not all that attracted his ire as a sense of injustice gathered pace quicker than he can win frames.
Speaking on Eurosport, O’Sullivan said: “You get a cameraman in the front row moving.
The referee? How he is refereeing in the semi-finals of a major tournament?
“We’ve got some fantastic referees. In an event like this, you want your best guys out there.
“He’s getting the black out of the pocket, and the red out of the pocket. I’m thinking: ‘mate, just get the black out’.
“And this is when Marco is at the table.”
O’Sullivan will face Joe Perry in the final as he bids for a record seventh title at the tournament, a mark that would see him pass Stephen Hendry’s total of six.
Marco Fu gets brilliant support from wife and thrilled daughter at Ally Pally
His success is buttressed by a level of desire that suggests his game remains as pristine as when he turned professional in 1992. At the age of 41, he seems to be untainted by time, tide or torment in his ability to cope with large dollops of pressure and find a way to win with his swashbuckling, inimitable sense of flair.
That is probably my best win ever. I played really well and with everything that went on and given the stature of the tournament, and the crowd and the atmosphere, it is definitely one of the best wins of my life.
“I knew I had nothing to lose with the new tip because the old tip was unplayable, the life in it had gone. It wasn’t a gamble, I had to do it."
His status as a great champion, arguably snooker’s greatest, can never be disputed, but what is slightly undervalued is his ability as a great competitor. He simply refuses to buckle. He has worked hard not to buckle.
Fu, who has reached semi-finals of the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters losing twice to O'Sullivan and Mark Selby, was fabulous here contributing runs of 89, 110, 141 and 83, but was outlasted by O'Sullivan recording glorious knocks of 95, 122, 47, 63, 82 and 69 in recovering from trailing 3-2 and 4-3.
As O’Sullivan pointed out, Fu didn’t lose the match, he won it.
“I’ve always had massive faith in my ability. I always worry, but when I get into the match I fancy my chances," he said. "A lot of it is about stamping your authority on the game.
Marco Fu and Ronnie O'Sullivan. Chengzhe Tai/World Snooker
Image credit: Eurosport
“I’ve worked on my mental skills, I’m much more of a competitor. And with my game, I feel an all-round strong opponent for anybody.
“I’m enjoying myself. I’ve had a great Saturday out.”
Perhaps it was down to his recovery from a cold virus that dogged him like an extended bout of safety play, but he was a different animal from the character who looked down and out against Liang Wenbo last Sunday, and who admitted he was fortunate to escape the clutches of Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals.
O'Sullivan slots a glorious long red
Wenbo missed a black to complete a win over O'Sullivan last Sunday, and suddenly the 'People's champion' is operating at his very best.
He may intimate he does not care about lifting a seventh Masters title, but his body language suggests otherwise.
“He is the greatest player in the game,” said Fu, who was as a courteous and impressive in defeat as he was in wins over Judd Trump and Mark Allen.
O'Sullivan produces magic to reach final
If he plays like that towards the end, there is nothing anybody he can do. It is just a pleasure to be involved in a match like this.
“For my part, I’m not too disappointed. I’m not playing worse than the first two matches it is just different opposition. You have to be great to beat Ronnie.
“It is fantastic to see guys like Ronnie, John Higgins, Joe Perry and Mark Davis doing so well into their 40s.”
For a man who won the first of his five world titles in 2001, and the first of his six Masters trophies in 1995, O'Sullivan's ongoing excellence resembles a sporting miracle.
For a man who has been busy thanking God this week, O’Sullivan is a miracle on the Ally Pally mound.
Sunday's sermon should be fun.
Marco Fu (Hong Kong) 4-6 Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)
99-1 (89), 52-83, 111-0 (110) 0-95 (4-95) (141) 141-0, 0-122 (122), (83) 83-47 (47), 7-118 (63), 1-128 (82), 0-70 (69)
Desmond Kane at Alexandra Palace