Stephen Hendry pronounced this year’s World Championship final a done deal after Ronnie O’Sullivan built a 6-2 lead over Kyren Wilson at the end of an underwhelming opening session on Saturday.
Both players appeared to be suffering a hangover from their respective classic semi-final wins, over eight frames which failed to enthral the socially-distanced crowd that returned for the first time since the tournaments’ opening day.
But O’Sullivan’s hard-fought four-frame advantage proved enough for seven-time champion Hendry to declare on the BBC: “I tend to think the match is over. I hope I’m wrong, but I think 6-2 is too far for Kyren to come back from.”
Expectations for the final had been heightened by Friday’s stunning events and by the Government’s relaxation of lockdown laws in time to allow some fans to be admitted.
But it soon became evident that Wilson was suffering a serious bout of final nerves, as despite never really getting out of first gear himself, O’Sullivan benefited from enough gifted opportunities to fashion a 3-1 interval advantage.
A missed long red by Wilson in third frame let in O’Sullivan for a break of 80, and a rare miss with the rest also allowed O’Sullivan to sweep up with a break of 75 to take the initiative.
Wilson did mange to reduce the deficit to 3-2 after seizing his second chance when O’Sullivan left a pink hanging over the top pocket, but it did little to help him settle as O’Sullivan won the remaining three frames of the afternoon.
A break of 48 got O’Sullivan over the line in the sixth frame, before his first century of the match, 106, arrived after Wilson let a frame-winning opportunity go begging when he saw a pink drift agonisingly into the bottom left jaws.
The final frame of an underwhelming session saw a succession of glaring errors by both players, culminating in Wilson missing a difficult long pink, letting O’Sullivan in to pot the final two colours, and according to Hendry, set one hand on his sixth Crucible title.