O'Sullivan pegged back by Trump
Time will tell whether Ronnie O'Sullivan carries out his latest threat to quit snooker but if he is to walk away then sessions such as the opener to his Betfair World Championship semi-final against Judd Trump are to be savoured.
The four-time champion led 4-1 in an absorbing contest, before Trump, the natural heir to O'Sullivan as the sport's great crowd-pleaser, rattled off three frames in a row to draw level.
So they will resume on Friday, for morning and evening sessions, at four frames each in the race to 17, their target for a place in the final.
O'Sullivan fired in breaks of 65, 75 and 89 on his way to the three-frame cushion, and looked then a strong favourite to secure an overnight lead. But 23-year-old Trump, who said prior to the match that he would not be scared of O'Sullivan, proved good to his word as he gutsily fought back.
He seemed down and out in frame seven when O'Sullivan built a handsome lead after a break of 56, which was most noteworthy for the sublime shot that kept it going on 36.
Faced with a difficult positional shot on the pink, with the reds awkward, he screwed the cue ball off the colour and swung it around three cushions and into a cluster of four reds on the top cushion. It elicited a handy split, but O'Sullivan could not convert the break into a frame-winning clearance.
Trump got back to the table with an outstanding long penultimate red, laid a smart snooker behind the green and forced a seven-point foul. Trump drilled a red to the middle pocket and made it count by clearing to the pink for 26 to snatch the frame. Buoyed by that, Trump fired in 72 in the final frame of the session to end on a high.
Jostling for the right to take on O'Sullivan or Trump are Chester's Ricky Walden and Kent's Barry Hawkins. Theirs is perhaps the most unlikely semi-final pairing since Nigel Bond took on Andy Hicks in 1995, and Walden hit the front as he seized a 6-2 lead.
Hawkins had speculated that he might struggle with the pressure of the Crucible's last-four set-up, featuring only one table in the arena and the gaze of the entire audience on the match.
So it proved, as he had a best break of only 19 in the opening four frames - one of which he somehow won - while Walden looked sharp and had runs of 91, 105 and 119 as he looked ready for the big stage.
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