Ronnie O’Sullivan saw his quest for a historic seventh world snooker title halted by a Judd Trump fightback on Monday.
Trump, the 2019 world champion, won six out of eight frames in the day’s opening session of the World Championship final to reduce O’Sullivan’s lead in the best of 35-frame contest to 14-11.
O’Sullivan resumed seven frames in front at 12-5 up, with Trump in danger of suffering the embarrassment of losing the showpiece clash at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre with a session to spare.
But the match will now be played to a finish from 1800 GMT Monday after O’Sullivan lost his first session of this year’s tournament.
O’Sullivan, bidding to equal Stephen Hendry’s modern-day record of seven world titles, had been in commanding form on Sunday against an error-prone Trump.
But Trump appeared to be a rejuvenated player as he won Monday’s first three frames to reduce his fellow Englishman’s lead to 12-8.
The opening frame of the day saw Trump have the better of a safety exchange against O’Sullivan, at 46, the oldest World Championship finalist since Ray Reardon in 1982.
And the 32-year-old left-hander then took the frame with a break of 107 — his first century of the match.
Trump won the next two frames as well, with O’Sullivan now making mistakes.
It looked as if he would win a fourth frame in a row only for a break of 45 to end when Trump missed an ambitious plant to the middle.
O’Sullivan then cleared to the pink to lead 13-8 at the mid-session interval.
Trump, however, won the next two frames before a missed black off its spot allowed O’Sullivan to compile a break of 51 that left him 14-10 ahead.
But Trump’s improved play also led to a change of luck, a fluked pot in the final frame of the session helping him on his way to a break of 105 as he narrowed the gap to three frames.
Sunday’s play had been notable for a row between O’Sullivan and referee Olivier Marteel—an unusual flare-up in the normally sedate world of snooker.
Marteel accused O’Sullivan of making an obscene gesture after failing to get out of a snooker in the eighth frame.
That led O’Sullivan to challenge Marteel by telling the Belgian official he “saw nothing”.
O’Sullivan, who had been 5-1 up, lost the next two frames and at the end of the session left the arena without offering the traditional handshake to Marteel.
The World Snooker Tour subsequently issued a statement that said: “Ronnie O’Sullivan received a formal warning from the referee following a gesture he made in the eighth frame.”
Prior to the snooker authorities’ statement, O’Sullivan told Eurosport: “I just think he (Marteel) seems to be looking for trouble.”
O’Sullivan quelled any lingering controversy by offering a fist bump to Marteel at the start of Sunday’s evening session.
He then dominating proceedings against a struggling Trump, who had said before the match it had always been a “dream” to play boyhood hero O’Sullivan in a world final.
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