RONNIE O’Sullivan stands just two frames away from winning the 2014 Welsh Open title after he dominated a one-sided opening session in the final against Ding Junhui.
The world champion goes into tonight’s (Sunday) final session with a commanding 7-1 lead over China’s number one star who was duly punished for not taking several opportunities which came his way.
O’Sullivan has already claimed two major titles this season – the Champion of Champions and The Masters – but his dominant display in Newport today is even more alarming given his opponent Ding, who has been the season’s best player winning four major events and searching for a record-equalling fifth.
But rather than leading through typical O’Sullivan brilliance on the table, the world champion has had most of the lead handed to him with Ding off the pace and not showing anywhere near the performance level he’s delivered in previous finals this season.
A cagey opening frame was won by O’Sullivan after Ding rattled a short-range red to the corner pocket of the top cushion at a crucial time. And a missed red to the centre pocket proved costly for Ding as a break of 91 stretched his opponent’s lead to 2-0.
Ding’s poor start continued as a bad miss on the black early on in frame three was once again punished by O’Sullivan who extended his lead to 3-0.
A relieved Ding managed to win the fourth frame at the second time of asking after O’Sullivan played a sloppy safety shot on the final red.
Trailing 3-1 after the mid-session interval, Ding looked set to pull another frame back with a break of 55 but a bad miscue whit hit the pink rather than the intended green proved costly as O’Sullivan punished to go 4-1 up.
A cross-double early on in frame six led to a clinical break of 92, the highest of the match so far, as O’Sullivan extended his lead further.
And Ding’s woes continued as bad misses, unimaginable for a player of his quality, helped O’Sullivan take the final two frames of the session to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
Ding will need a strong start to the final session (starting at 7pm) if he is to have any chance of clinching what would be a memorable comeback win.
The winner will win the top cash prize of £60,000 as well as the Welsh Open trophy.