RONNIE O’Sullivan dominated an exciting opening session to this year’s World Championship final – but things did not go all his own way as Barry Hawkins put on a fight.
Many inside the game had O’Sullivan to win this year’s final by a landslide with odds available he would claim victory with a session to spare – but a determined display from Hawkins ensured a contest between the two was very much on the cards.
The red-hot favourite made the perfect start to his bid for a fifth world title as breaks of 74 and 92 gave him an early 2-0 lead.
Hawkins, who is playing in his first World Championship final following his semi-final win over Ricky Walden, eased his nerves by winning the third frame with a break of 81.
Getting off the mark boosted Hawkins’ confidence and the fourth frame saw him take full advantage of a missed long red from O’Sullivan with a break of 81 as he levelled at 2-2 at the mid-session interval.
And the resumption saw Hawkins, who also knocked out Mark Selby and Ding Junhui en-route to the final, continue where he left off as breaks of 45 and 50 earned him a 3-2 lead. Remarkably, it was the first time O’Sullivan had been behind at any stage during the whole of this year’s World Championship.
But it was The Rocket who dominated the remainder of the opening session. A break of 76 quickly levelled the match at 3-3 before he made the first century break of the match (113) to go back in front at 4-3.
The final frame saw of the session saw O’Sullivan go back to two frames clear as he made it back to back centuries – this time 100 – to go into the evening session 5-3 ahead.