Ronnie wins the Premier League


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RONNIE O’SULLIVAN hailed his Premier League Snooker victory as a fantastic achievement.

O’Sullivan has now won the tournament for five consecutive seasons and eight in total after a 7-2 victory over Mark Selby in the final at the Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk.

“I’m coming to the end of my career as I’m 33 now so I want to make the most of it when I can,” said O’Sullivan, who collects Ł75,000 from the competition.

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“To beat someone of Mark’s caliber and quality is fantastic for me. He’s coming after me so I just want to keep him at bay for as long as I can.

“It’s just good to win as in a lot of games I feel that I have to win.

“I was happy with my form and was scoring among the balls and as it’s the final, that’s when you want to produce your best snooker.

“This season I haven’t played too great but it’s nice to get it right when it matters.

“The Premier League is such a great tournament and the (25-second) shot clock can get you to do some strange things.

“At the start of the season I put this down as one of the events I wanted to do well as you have great crowds, it’s fantastic.”

O’Sullivan, who has now won the Premier League eight times, dominated the first five frames as breaks of 93, 62, 83 and 62 helped him to a 5-0 lead.

However, the sixth, which lasted 40 minutes, went Selby’s way as he stole the frame by two points when O’Sullivan had looked in the great position.

Selby hoped that could be a turning point but O’Sullivan raced to a 105 break in the next and was now one from victory.

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An 84 from Selby brought him within four frames and opened up the prospect of a memorable fightback but that dream died as O’Sullivan’s break of 74 saw him clinch the title.

“I’m obviously disappointed not to win the tournament but only a couple of months ago I was playing in the qualifier at Crandon Park to get here,” added Selby.

“To get to play someone like Ronnie in the final is a dream come true. If someone had offered me the chance of getting to the final and playing Ronnie I would’ve bitten their hand off.

“But knowing how I played against Stephen on Saturday I’m a little bit disappointed with how I played.

“Ronnie is a class act and when playing him you need to take your chances and I didn’t do that.”

Final: Ronnie O’Sullivan 7-2 Mark Selby

121-11 (O’Sullivan 93), 82-8 (O’Sullivan 62), 74-18 (O’Sullivan 31, 39), 83-14 (O’Sullivan 83), 83-48 (O’Sullivan 62), 58-60, 105-13 (O’Sullivan 105), 0-84 (Selby 84), 74-20 (O’Sullivan 74)

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN is the 2008 Premier League Snooker Champion.

O’Sullivan lifted the trophy after a 7-2 victory over Mark Selby in the final at the Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk.

It means O’Sullivan becomes the first player to win the prestigious event, which was broadcast live on Sky Sports, five times in a row.

Selby had been in sensational form to thrash Stephen Hendry 5-0 in his semi-final on Saturday, while O’Sullivan had clinched his place in the final with a nerve-jangling 5-4 victory over Joe Perry.

O’Sullivan was bidding for his fifth title in a row and was given an early opportunity in the first after a loose shot by Selby.

But, after scoring 28, O’Sullivan missed a red into the center pocket to give Selby another chance. However, he then failed to pot a red, although he was hampered by having to cue over the pack of reds and use the rest.

That gave O’Sullivan the opportunity he needed and a break of 93 made it 1-0. He doubled his lead soon afterward after Selby, who had hardly made a mistake on Saturday in the semi-final, again could not sink his attempted red while using the rest.

Once again that proved costly as O’Sullivan fired a break of 62. Selby came back to the table needing a snooker but failed to get it and the frame was soon over.

O’Sullivan, the winner of the Premier League in each of the seasons where a shot clock has been employed, took another step closer to continuing that run by winning the third frame.

He made a break of 31 before he lost position on a loose safety but a terrible contact for Selby led to his targetted red not going into the pocket and O’Sullivan’s subsequent break of 39 made it 3-0.

His domination of the early stages of the match continued in the next frame as Selby had only scored 14 before O’Sullivan again showed his class with a run of 84 as the scoreboard now showed 4-0.

Selby looked like winning his first frame of the match in the fifth as he accumulated a 48-point lead. However, his attempt to slow roll a long red into the top corner failed and that gave O’Sullivan another chance, which he took with a break of 62 to now lead 5-0.

The sixth frame was the longest of the weekend by far and one of the longest of the tournament as it lasted more than 40 minutes.

Both players produced some exceptional safety play before they made several errors in what was looking like a critical frame.

Selby, leading by two points, fouled when he hit the black instead of a red but O’Sullivan later made a bizarre mistake when he potted the yellow but instead of playing for position on the green, played again for the yellow.

This lack of concentration proved costly as he now had to play safe instead of finishing off the frame. O’Sullivan still had one further chance but a missed cross double on the pink let in Selby to steal a tense frame by two points.

Selby hoped that might prove to be a turning point but it was not the case as he made an unforced error earlier in the seventh before O’Sullivan raced to a 105 break and was now one from victory.

Just when Selby needed something special, he produced it in the eighth with a break of 84, his best of the contest so far to pull a frame back and make it 6-2 to O’Sullivan.

But a break of 74 gave O’Sullivan the victory and his eighth Premier League Snooker title.

Semi-final: Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-4 Joe Perry

68-55 (O’Sullivan 32, Perry 40), 0-93 (Perry 85), 93-20 (O’Sullivan 79), 8-76 (Perry 72), 93-24 (O’Sullivan 31, 62), 0-95 (Perry 95), 69-6 (O’Sullivan 52), 4-100 (Perry 100), 104-4 (O’Sullivan 104)

RONNIE O’Sullivan will meet Mark Selby in the final of the 2008 Premier League Snooker.

O’Sullivan stayed on course for his fifth consecutive title with a nerve-jangling 5-4 victory over Joe Perry in the second semi-final.

“I’m pleased with the win and to be in the final but there were so many mistakes the match could’ve gone either way,” said O’Sullivan.

“Joe deserved to win as he won more frames in one visit than I did but maybe my experience told.

“I always think I have a chance as long as I’m still in the game but I made it difficult for myself and Joe played well under pressure.

“But I like playing deciding frames, it’s an adrenaline rush but I should be like that from the off and taking more of my chances instead of having to find some inspirational stuff at the end.”

The second semi-final at the Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk, was between defending champion O’Sullivan and tournament newcomer Perry.

In the league phase, Perry finished second and recorded a 4-2 win over O’Sullivan, who came third.

O’Sullivan had dominated the Premier League for the last few seasons, winning in each of the last four events and was hoping for more success.

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He clinched a scrappy opening frame by 13 points to move into an early lead in this best of nine matches. But a break of 85 from Perry leveled the scores before O’Sullivan took advantage of a poor Perry miss on a red for a run of 79 in the third and a 2-1 lead.

There was a lengthy safety battle at the start of the fourth before Perry had an opportunity and he took it thanks to a break of 72 to bring the scores back level at 2-2.

Both players made errors in the fifth as both players missed reds into center pockets that they would usually pocket before Perry had some bad luck with a bad kick. However, he then missed a later red and that proved costly as O’Sullivan hit 62 to regain the lead.

It again did not last long as Perry, for the third time in the match, leveled the scores thanks to an effort of 95. But O’Sullivan claimed the seventh frame to move only one away from the final.

A missed red had looked like proving costly from O’Sullivan but Perry could only manage six before the Rocket was back at the table. This time he took advantage with a break of 52 for 4-3.

The match then went down to the wire as Perry responded in perfect fashion with a century break. One frame would decide who advances to the final and who would be out.

The decisive moment came in the early stages of the last frame. O’Sullivan’s break was short and left Perry a chance on a long red but he missed it and left O’Sullivan in a great position.

He produced a magnificent 104 break under pressure to advance to the final again.

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