Ronnie O’Sullivan fended off a heroic Judd Trump fightback to land the Coral UK Championship title and joked: “I feel like retiring.”
Not for the first time in his career, O’Sullivan was not entirely serious, but Trump’s mesmerising recovery from 9-4 behind could have given the 39-year-old nightmares for years to come had the deciding frame also swung the way of the Bristolian.
O’Sullivan dug in and captured a 10-9 victory at York’s Barbican Centre, landing his fifth UK title, to sit alongside his five World Championship trophies and five Masters crowns.
Considering it was achieved on the back of a broken ankle sustained on the eve of the tournament, which led O’Sullivan to consider pulling out, it ranks among his most notable performances.
He earns £150,000, to go with the £44,000 he pocketed for Thursday’s 147 against Matt Selt, but the big cheque and the trophy almost slipped from his grasp.
Trump was disappointing for a large part of his second UK final, but his breaks of 120, 127, 86 and 67 in consecutive frames reduced the best-of-19 contest to a single-frame shoot-out, which a quaking O’Sullivan clinched with a 51 run.
O’Sullivan, who first landed the UK title days before his 18th birthday in 1993, said: “I can’t believe I’ve won it. I don’t want to be playing him in every final. I feel like retiring.
“He’s a tough opponent, he’s very dynamic and very explosive. He’s fearless, and he’s in your face the whole time, and if you go off the boil he’s on you.
“I’m trying to make the most of however long this lasts.
“I’m going to enjoy this moment. I’ve won the Champion of Champions title and now the UK Championship. I’m delighted to have had a great few weeks and I can start to think about defending the Masters in January.”
The blip in O’Sullivan’s year came with defeat in May to Mark Selby in the World Championship final, but, in capturing the Masters, Welsh Open, Champion of Champions – at the expense of 25-year-old Trump last month – and now this latest triumph, he has shown he is only getting better with age.
Trump is too, putting in the practice hours, and O’Sullivan is wary his big rival will keep improving.
When Trump levelled up, O’Sullivan knew the momentum was with the swashbuckling left-hander.
“It happened so quick and at 9-8 my mind was just gone,” O’Sullivan said. “I felt really nervous and, having had such a lead, I thought, ’If I lose it from here, the disappointment would be unbelievable’. The pressure was mounting and mounting and it was difficult to put that out of your mind.
“It was just relief in the end.”
Runner-up Trump said: “I left it too late and fair play to Ronnie – he took them well in the last frame and overall he was more of a deserving winner.”