‘Struggling’ O’Sullivan into Masters final

PUBLISHED: 23:32 16 January 2016 | UPDATED: 23:32 16 January 2016

Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts during his semi-final match against Stuart Bingham at the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace (pic: Steve Paston/PA)

Ronnie O'Sullivan reacts during his semi-final match against Stuart Bingham at the Dafabet Masters at Alexandra Palace (pic: Steve Paston/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

I was butchering everything says Rocket

Ronnie O’Sullivan is adamant that if he reproduces his semi-final performance in the Masters final on Sunday, then he will be easily beaten by Barry Hawkins.

The Chigwell cueman played snooker far below his brilliant best, but still triumphed 6-3 over Stuart Bingham in the last four at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Aside from his quarter-final win over Mark Selby, O’Sullivan has, by his own admission, been a shell of himself this week, but will still have a chance to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of six Masters titles against Hawkins on Sunday.

But the 40-year-old is concerned that his opponent – who has beaten Joe Perry, Mark Allen and Judd Trump to reach the showpiece – could walk away victorious.

“Barry is an unbelievable player and he’s beaten some great players this week. He’s scared of no-one and why would you be when you played like he did against Judd in the semi-final,” said O’Sullivan.

“If I put a performance in like that it’s over – I would expect Barry to rip into me and eat me for breakfast. But if I can perform a little bit like I did against Selby then I will have half a chance.

“No disrespect to Stuart, but he’ll probably be the first to admit that wasn’t a great standard from either of us.

“My touch and my feel was so bad – I was butchering everything. I’ve got away with it because of my reputation and people have been giving me a little bit too much respect this week. Hopefully I’ll start to feel good amongst the balls soon.”

The best-of-19 final will pit O’Sullivan against Hawkins in a rematch of the 2013 World Championship final – which ‘The Rocket’ won 18-12.

And while he has been disappointed with his play at Alexandra Palace this week, the world number six believes his mental fortitude has stood him in good stead.

“One thing about the last three matches is that I haven’t thrown the towel in,” added O’Sullivan.

“I felt like throwing it in against Stuart, but I thought ‘no, keep playing, think about each shot and don’t sabotage yourself’. Mentally I’ve done unbelievably well.

“I’m a bit scared to be honest with you. I was scared to go out there tonight and I’ve been scared about going out in all my matches because in the last six weeks I’ve been struggling and I don’t know why.”

*Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing all major ranking events including the Masters, World Championship and the exclusive “Ronnie O’Sullivan Show”.

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