Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Luca Brecel to extend epic Shanghai Masters winning run

Ronnie O’Sullivan has won his fourth Shanghai Masters title on the spin, and fifth in total, beating Luca Brecel 11-9 in a superb final on Sunday.

When the world number one (O’Sullivan) and world champion (Brecel) plotted their routes to the final it always looked like it was going to be a memorable affair and it certainly was.

It is rare that the Rocket is the more circumspect player on display, but even the seven-time world champion could not claim to be as buccaneering as Brecel who took on near enough every pot available to him in the entire match.

It shows the immense talent of the Belgian Bullet that he can play in this wild style and push the Greatest Of All Time nearly all the way in Shanghai, where O’Sullivan has been unbeatable for years.

This was the first time the tournament had been held since 2019, due to a pandemic-inforced break, meaning the last time O’Sullivan lost in Shanghai was a shock defeat to Michael Holt in 2016.

While this is not a ranking event, the top two in those rankings have proved that they deserve those spots, while the Rocket gains a measure of revenge on the Bullet for the World Championship quarter-final defeat in April.

It is another profitable week for both men, with the Englishman picking up £210,000 for his efforts, while the Belgian gets £105,000 for finishing runner-up. The 28-year-old will certainly have retained his position as O’Sullivan’s favourite player to watch as well.

Brecel was the more impressive player over the first session of the contest, making breaks of 134, 103, 98 and 75 over the first 10 frames, but he still found himself 6-4 behind at that stage in the best of 21 contest.

O’Sullivan had only managed two breaks over 50 in that stage, but he pinched a crucial 10th frame when Brecel went in-off on the final yellow, allowing the Rocket to take a lead into the evening session.

The Bullet is as unflappable as they come, though, and with a strong start to the second session he was level again at 7-7 and looking strong as O’Sullivan seemed to be weakening.

No one is ever foolish enough to write-off the 47-year-old, though, as he won the 15th then burst into life spectacularly, making breaks of 143 and 120 to go one frame from victory at 10-7. The 143 securing him the high break of the tournament.

Brecel quelled the momentum by taking the next, then made an 83 to keep his chances very much alive at 10-9 behind in the race to 11.

After plenty of big breaks the 20th frame was a lot more awkward as both had tricky chances and it proved to be the longest frame of the match, but O’Sullivan eventually got over the line to get his hands on the trophy yet again.

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