Ronnie O'Sullivan becomes oldest-ever winner of UK Championship

Snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan becomes oldest-ever winner of UK Championship with victory over Ding Junhui… 30 years on from being the youngest player to lift the trophy

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Ding Junhui 10-7 in final of the UK Championship
  • He beat Stephen Hendry in 1993 to claim his first ranking title aged just 17 
  • It was a record-extending eighth UK Championship trophy for O’Sullivan 

Thirty years after he was crowned the youngest winner of the UK Championship, evergreen Ronnie O’Sullivan made more history on Sunday night by also becoming the oldest.

It was in this tournament in 1993 that the remarkable Rocket stunned Stephen Hendry to claim his first ranking title aged just 17. But O’Sullivan is now the Grand Old Duke of York after beating Ding Junhui 10-7, two days before his 48th birthday, to eclipse Doug Mountjoy, who won in 1988 at the age of 46.

This was a record-extending eighth UK Championship trophy for O’Sullivan, as well as a 22th Triple Crown triumph and a 40th ranking title – albeit his first since claiming his seventh World Championship at the Crucible 19 months ago.

Having said he was ‘just motivated by cash’ after his semi-final win over Hossein Vafaei, this victory saw him pocket a healthy cheque for £250,000. And O’Sullivan’s age-defying exploits in York also means he will remain as world No1 ahead of snooker’s next Triple Crown event, the Masters next month.

‘It’s bonkers to still be playing and winning tournaments at nearly 48,’ admitted O’Sullivan, who won the final three frames against Ding and sealed victory with a break of 129.

Ronnie O’Sullivan made more history by becoming the oldest winner of the UK Championship

The Rocket stunned Stephen Hendry in 1993 final to claim his first ranking title aged just 17

‘It’s great to win, but it’s not the same excitement as years ago when I was winning my first titles and you’re buzzing. I get more of a buzz now going for a run or having porridge for breakfast with my mate.’

O’Sullivan has been selective in the tournaments he has entered of late. This was only his second appearance on these shores this season. Yet it felt almost inevitable that he would triumph at the Barbican, such is the way he had dominated the build-up following the release of his Amazon Prime documentary, The Edge of Everything.

That film heavily features his famous first UK title at the Preston Guild Hall in 1993. It came just a year after his father was jailed for life for murder – and he even visited Ronnie Snr in Gartree prison with his trophy.

‘If you had told me 30 years ago I’d still be playing, I’d have said you were off your nut,’ added O’Sullivan. ‘But I feel like I have got better. I feel like I am more of a complete player than I have ever been.

‘I always keep beating myself up with the age thing and think at some point it has got to stop. But I keep going all right so I will keep going until the wheels fall off.’

O’Sullivan claimed last week he could play on for another 10 years and nights like these, in front of a full house of 1,247 fans, will only fuel him.

The 47-year-old has not always been at his best but still claimed the title in York on Sunday

He had actually pulled out of the tournament before this one, the Champion of Champions, because he felt ‘drained and stressed’. But on his return to action in York, he has looked refreshed, even if he has not always been at his best, having twice been taken to final-frame deciders.

In Sunday’s final, O’Sullivan raced into an early 3-0 lead with breaks of 71, 71 and 91. But three-time UK champion Ding, who whitewashed O’Sullivan 6-0 here last year, recovered by winning four of the next five frames to end the afternoon session all square at 4-4.

After sharing the first two frames of the night, O’Sullivan went 7-5 up with 87 and 79 breaks. Yet Ding would not be beaten and drew level with his second century of the match.

At 7-7, O’Sullivan racked up his first ton of the final to edge ahead. And then a 74 put him one frame away, before his highest break of the match, that 129, sealed his first UK title since 2018.

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