• World Snooker Championship

Classy O'Sullivan crowned Crucible champion

ESPN staff
May 6, 2013
Ronnie O'Sullivan is only two world titles short of Stephen Hendry's record © PA Photos

Ronnie O'Sullivan clinched a fifth World Snooker Championship crown with an 18-12 victory over Barry Hawkins - and the triumph will surely rank amongst his greatest at the Crucible.

A year on from when he defeated Ali Carter to hold the world title along with his son Ronnie Jr, O'Sullivan declared it was the best moment of his career, but given 'The Rocket' has been out of the game for almost 12 months on a self-imposed break and only announced his return to defend his trophy in February, he has achieved what many critics believed would be difficult; retaining his crown.

O'Sullivan is now two world titles short of Stephen Hendry's record seven - and the 37-year-old has become the first man since the legendary Scot in 1996 to successfully retain the championship.

O'Sullivan after the victory revealed he will play in smaller events, but whether he decides to retire for good his name has made the headlines - as it always does - in Sheffield for the way he has played on the green baize despite being off the circuit for so long, and he has conveyed he is very much the man to beat should he reconsider his options.

"My main motive wasn't to come here and win it. I was kind of bored, sitting on the sidelines with nothing going on and I thought, 'I can do it'. Something to just keep me busy for the next six weeks, preparing for the worlds," O'Sullivan told BBC's Hazel Irvine after he crossed the finish line.

"And then coming here, I like Sheffield, I love the tournament and being at the Crucible, so it filled a nice gap of eight weeks and I've got to keep busy now. It's been great just to get something back in my life."

O'Sullivan was asked whether he would return to the Crucible 12 months later to defend his crown again, and he said: "I've had a great time and I enjoyed every moment. I love playing and I'm definitely going to be playing in some smaller events, as to me that's just pure snooker.

"Here, there is a lot going on and it's hard, but I just love playing so I will definitely be playing in some smaller events and we will just see what goes on."

He also refused to close the door on his career and will keep everyone guessing his next moves. "I just do not know what is going to happen because things are always changing. Come December or January I will have a much better idea of what I will be doing," he said.

Like he did at the start of the third session, Hawkins won the opening frame to make the score 15-11 with a superb 127, and collected another frame thanks to a 66.

Hawkins - who prior to this year's event has never been beyond the second round at the Crucible - was full of confidence and demonstrated his ability to stick with O'Sullivan. However, when he failed to pot a red whilst on 24, that allowed O'Sullivan to fire in a 77 and go four frames clear.

An 88 put O'Sullivan on the verge of victory at 17-12, and after the mid-session interval he wrapped up victory by knocking in a 86 to retain his world title and seal triumph No. 5 in style.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.