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Sealed with a kiss as O'Sullivan downs Ding to reach Masters final

It was one-way traffic as Britain's Ronnie O'Sullivan (pictured July 2017), already a record seven-times Masters winner, surged into a 4-0 lead
AFP/File
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London (AFP)

Ronnie O'Sullivan held off China's Ding Junhui to advance into the Masters final with a 6-3 win at London's Alexandra Palace on Saturday.

It was one-way traffic as O'Sullivan, already a record seven-times Masters winner, surged into a 4-0 lead.

Ding, however, fought back by winning the next three frames, scoring two successive centuries and narrowly missing out on a maximum break of 147 when he failed to pot a difficult green.

O'Sullivan, having seen his lead reduced to 4-3, rallied to book his place in Sunday's final, where he will face either fellow Englishman Judd Trump or Australia's Neil Robertson.

After the match, O'Sullivan gave Ding a consolation kiss and some words of encouragement.

"I was hoping Ding would get the 147," O'Sullivan told World Snooker. "It would have been fantastic for the crowd, and for Ding."

He added: "I won't divulge what I said to him at the end. Everyone knows how close I am to him and how I feel for Ding. I don't kiss many people, but I like Ding, he's a special guy and a special human."

Ding, however, had no qualms about sharing O'Sullivan's comments.

"He said he loved me. He said I was great to watch. He said it was good to see me playing better," Ding said.

O'Sullivan is now one match away from becoming the first player in the modern era to win one of snooker's 'triple crown' events (World Championship, UK Championship and Masters) eight times.

But the five-times world champion, nicknamed 'The Rocket' for his speed around the table, said he was uninterested in statistics.

"I don't buy into numbers or achievements, I just enjoy what I have and am grateful for what I have," O'Sullivan, 43, explained.

"I understand that the western philosophy is about getting more and more is never enough, but I don't adopt that."

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