Eurosport - Mon, 26 Apr 17:07:00 2010
Ronnie O'Sullivan recorded three centuries on his way to securing his place in the last eight of the World Championship with an exhilarating 13-10 win over Mark Williams in Sheffield.
The two former winners began their final session locked at 8-8, but O'Sullivan was quickly into his stride against the classy Welshman in a match teeming with terrific break building.
The Rocket knocked in a 53 to take the opener only for Williams, winner of the China Open earlier this month, to respond with a 53 that brought him level at 9-9.
That only served to inspire O'Sullivan, who was enjoying one of those days when he was scoring heavily, playing good safety and knocking in his long pots.
"I managed to put a few decent frames together for a change," O'Sullivan told reporters.
"I knew I needed to find form, but out of panic and desperation I got the cue through to pot a few balls and find a bit of form.
"It was nice to come through a tough match against a quality player."
A break of 104 enabled him to move 10-9 clear before he punished an error by Williams to move two frames ahead at the mid-session interval.
Williams came out fighting. He made it 11-10 with a run of 114, but O'Sullivan was not going to falter with the winning post in sight.
An effort of 111 saw him move within one frame of the quarter-finals before he finished matters off with a break of 106 in frame 23.
"You have to sit there and say, 'Well done'," commented Williams. "Everything about his game is spot on.
"The only person who can beat him in this World Championship is himself. You've got to take your hat off to him. Some of the clearances and shots he was pulling off was outstanding."
Williams can console himself with the knowledge that he would have overcome most players in the top 16 with such a performance, but O'Sullivan is rightly favourite for the event.
He is likely to face Mark Selby in the quarter-finals. The pair met in the Masters final at the outset of the year in a match Selby won.
Second session report
Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams will start the final session of their World Championship duel locked at 8-8 after an engrossing evening failed to separate the pair.
The two former world champions began the night at 4-4 in the second-round match. O'Sullivan secured the ninth frame with a break of 86, but Williams responded immediately with a run of 60.
He pinched the next to move 6-5 ahead before a majestic contribution of 99 put him two to the good at 7-5.
Williams is clearly reinvigorated after his success in winning the China Open earlier this month. He was displaying flashes of the form that saw him win at the Crucible in 2000 and 2003.
O'Sullivan made it 7-6, but a couple of efforts in the 40s saw Williams carve out an 8-6 advantage.
O'Sullivan, world champion in 2001, 2004 and 2008, responded in trademark style.
Breaks of 66 and 72 in the final two frames of the night leaves the match finely poised before they play to a finish on Monday afternoon.
Mark Selby or Stephen Hendry awaits the winner in the last eight.
First session report
Mark Williams fought back from 4-1 down to level his second-round match with Ronnie O'Sullivan 4-4 after their opening session at the Crucible.
In a battle between two multi-world champions, Williams edged a tight first frame but O'Sullivan produced a dazzling spell of snooker to seemingly take control of the match.
The Rocket rattled off quick-fire breaks of 67, 87 and 83 to put himself 3-1 up at the interval then continued where he left off after the mid-session break with an effort of 78.
During that period Williams did not pot a single ball, but he finally ended a 32-minute spell without scoring in the next frame which he eventually took with a break of 75.
O'Sullivan had the first chance of the next frame but missed a black while trying to go into the pack and Williams punished him with a frame-winning effort of 57.
The Welshman was similarly ruthless in the final frame when he came back from 41-0 down to win it with a break of 74 and set things up nicely for the second session.
World Championship: LIVE on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) with both tables LIVE on the Eurosport Player