London - 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."