Joe Perry put up a brave fight but was ultimately shot down by ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Dafabet Masters final at London’s Alexandra Palace last night (January 22).
O’Sullivan won a record seventh title, coming from behind to beat Chatteris cueman Perry 10-7.
Perry, in his first Triple Crown final at the age of 42, led 4-1 but missed a straightforward red for a 5-1 lead.
O’Sullivan won seven frames in a row to move 8-4 ahead before Perry, helped by breaks of 117 and 92, fought back.
But O’Sullivan (41) sealed victory to defend his title and move ahead of Stephen Hendry’s six Masters wins.
Victory means O’Sullivan claimed the newly named Paul Hunter trophy - in honour of the three-time champion who died of cancer aged 27 in 2006 - as well as the £200,000 winners’ prize money.
It also ensured the world number 13 ended a run of three defeats in finals this season and defended the title he won last year by thrashing Barry Hawkins 10-1.
O’Sullivan was quick to praise the efforts of Perry, who picked up a runners-up cheque for £90,000.
He said: “Joe played a brilliant tournament, a really good match and he should’ve beaten me. I got lucky - I stole it,” said O’Sullivan.
“Joe will come again and he is a tough competitor. I’m just relieved to have got over the line. The fans have been unbelievable and I really enjoyed this week.
“It is great to get some records, I still have the World Championship one to get.
“When I was younger I was just happy to win one, so to win seven, someone up there is looking after me.”
‘The Rocket’ had to deal with a virus in his first-round final-frame victory over Liang Wenbo and needed to repair a broken cue tip in the semi-final against Marco Fu, which he said was the “best match he has ever won”.
In the final, O’Sullivan seemed unsettled by noise coming from a backstage table early on, but pulled himself together to level the match 4-4 at the interval.
He claimed a 32-minute ninth frame to move into the lead for the first time, and then knocked in breaks of 85 and 68 to take control.
At 8-6 and with Perry fighting back, O’Sullivan made his first century of the match - a break of 112 - and 859th of his career.
The Englishman then held his nerve to win a 20-minute tactical frame and claim his 17th Triple Crown title.
Along with seven Masters - the first of which he won in 1995 - he has also claimed five World and five UK Championship crowns, and is now just one behind Hendry’s record of 18.
Perry has only won one ranking title - the 2015 Players Championship - but seemed to take to the occasion well, with breaks of 72, 74 and 115 giving him a surprise lead.
But rattling the final red in the jaws of the pocket when presented with the opportunity to go 5-1 up seemed to dent his confidence.
Although he rallied by clawing back three frames late on, O’Sullivan’s substantial advantage was too great to overturn.
“I’ve proved a lot, that there is still some life left in me and it has given me the belief to go on and win a big one,” said Perry.
“At 4-1 up I got a bit carried away and it was not until I was 8-4 down I thought, ‘I’m going for it’.
“It’s given me the taste to go for more finals, it’s a great feeling to be involved and you take snooker up for nights like this.
“Fair play to Ronnie, even when he is not at his best he is still amazing.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 10-7 Joe Perry (Eng)
First session: 24-79 (72), 16-101 (53), 86-27 (59), 31-90 (74), 0-115 (115), 67-40, 61-21, 81-23 (55)
Second session: 51-14, 124-4 (68 & 56), 67-12, 108-15 (85), 1-117 (117), 1-92 (92), 130-0 (112), 1-106 (53), 59-39