Sublime O'Sullivan crushes Hendry

Ronnie O’Sullivan overwhelmed seven-time champion Stephen Hendry 17-6 to reach his third 888.com World Championship final with a session to spare.

O’Sullivan produced breathtaking snooker, at one stage winning 12 frames on the trot, to set up a best-of-35 meeting with either Joe Perry or Ali Carter.

Hendry looked shell-shocked at the demolition job undertaken on him by the game’s most naturally gifted player after the duo had ended the opening session at 4-4.

The Scot, who dominated the game in the 1990s, failed to pot a ball in seven of the eight frames O’Sullivan had won during the morning to inflict the first session whitewash on Hendry at Sheffield in his distinguished career.

Hendry had handed out similar punishment to Terry Griffiths (1992), Jimmy White (1992) and Danny Fowler (1993) but this time was on the receiving end.

O’Sullivan at one stage scored 448 points without reply and the record for the tournament – 485 points by John Higgins against Anthony Hamilton in 2000 - looked under threat before Hendry finally stopped the onslaught.

But O’Sullivan carried on in the same vein during the evening session and in all registered five centuries during the match to take his tally over the past fortnight to 11.

It was hard to believe Hendry had led 4-1 at one stage given the way he was completely outplayed by O’Sullivan during a match that will live long in the memory.

O’Sullivan, who had defeated Hendry 17-4 in the 2004 semi-final, resumed in the the evening in the same vein as the morning onslaught.

Hendry elected not to take on a long red but let in O’Sullivan when he unsuccessfully tried to play safe and the ’Rocket’ made him pay dearly with a 126 – his third complete clearance of the match.

That made it 12 frames on the bounce for O’Sullivan but in the next Hendry ended that disastrous losing streak with an 85 after an excellent opening pot.

Hendry was first amongst the balls in the 19th frame with a 54 and, after O’Sullivan had missed a blue at pace, he cleared up sufficiently with a 46 to pull another one back.

But O’Sullivan crept nearer to the finishing line in the last frame before the interval with a run of 68.

There was no mercy being shown by the 32-year-old and when the players returned to the table, O’Sullivan compiled a superb 123.

As if to rub salt into Hendry’s wounds, O’Sullivan fluked two reds during the early part of the 22nd frame before a run of 56 took him to within one frame of victory at 16-6.

And it was all over in the next as O’Sullivan ensured he has a day off before the final gets under way on Sunday.

Carter dominated the second session of the other semi-final with Perry to open up a 9-7 lead.

The 28-year-old recovered from a 5-3 overnight deficit by triumphing in six of the eight frames as Perry struggled to find his touch for lengthy periods.

But both players will have to up their game considerably if they are to prove a match for likely finalist O’Sullivan.

Carter, who had trailed 5-2 at one stage, reeled off six frames on the trot at one juncture as the confidence drained out of his opponent.

He had breaks of 106 and 128 plus four other 50-plus runs before Perry finally found his touch with a 127 clearance in the penultimate frame.

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