German Masters: ‘Will I ever win another title? – How Berlin inspired Ronnie O’Sullivan’s glorious revival ten years ago
There are bigger tales of triumph and torment in Ronnie O’Sullivan’s ongoing opus of snooker opulence, but no one should underestimate the significance of his historic victory at the German Masters in 2012.
O’Sullivan had been largely in the doldrums since his 18-8 victory over Ali Carter in the World Championship final four years earlier.
Still capable of his time – he quite reveled among the Londoners at the 2009 Masters with an epic 10-8 win at Wembley against old foe Mark Selby – but underperformance seemed to be the recurring theme as he made his career around the second half of his thirties. .
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The first round of the German Masters, then in only its second year as a modern ranking event in Berlin, was a step in the Rocket’s regeneration against the new generation of snooker a decade ago.
On reflection, the full awareness of such a stylish cover was no coincidence. O’Sullivan tends never to conform to expected standards.
The 36-year-old had gone three years without winning a ranking tournament, was 16th in the world and was in shocking danger of being forced to qualify for the world championship in Sheffield.
“I wondered if I would ever win another ranking title,” O’Sullivan said.
His bullied mood was further starved when he trailed 4-0 in the first round to an inspired Andrew Higginson – the talented 2007 Welsh Open finalist fiercely nicknamed ‘The Widnes Warrior’ mainly because it sounds good coming from Cheshire – who produced streaks of 80 and 67 to advance to the dawn of the last 16 and a resounding triumph.
Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on Andrew Higginson in 2012.
Image credit: Eurosport
O’Sullivan prevented the shutout with a quick 86 break but was one ball away from defeat after his opponent opened with a fine 63 in the sixth frame as the vast Tempodrom tormented his senses.
O’Sullivan went for it all, covered in a searing long red mark and rallied as he edged in the second frame with a break of 67 enough to sickeningly deny his fellow Englishman on black.
He won the next three frames with three plus 50 shots to complete an unlikely big escape in the German capital. In what remains their only professional game, the significance of the occasion remains a key part of O’Sullivan’s award-winning DNA outside of Essex.
“Andrew played well and I was lucky to win,” O’Sullivan said afterwards. “At 4-0, I hadn’t done much wrong. It was a great atmosphere and I enjoyed the comeback. I don’t want to comment on the standings, it would just be nice to win a tournament.”
The poignancy of that 5-4 win took on historic significance as further victories over Joe Perry (5-1), Matthew Stevens (5-3), Stephen Lee (6-4) and Stephen Maguire (9-7 ) saw him shake hands. his first ranking award since the 2009 Shanghai Masters.
Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Maguire at the German Masters 2012 final.
Image credit: Eurosport
Four centuries were achieved in the opening four frames for the first time in a major final, three flying on cue from ‘on fire’ Scotsman Maguire clearly in the mood, in an absorbing finale that provided O’ Sullivan a 23rd ranking victory. in his career high of 38.
He rallied from a 6-3 deficit to topple the former UK champion proving to himself and the rest of the world that he could still meet the intense demands of a 2-man crowd 500 spectators in the bustling German capital.
When he restored parity at 6-6, there was even an unusual punch to illustrate his sense of excitement with Maguire declaring his sense of bewilderment at the loss. “Right now I just want to jump off a bridge.”
Within three months, O’Sullivan would bridge the gap between desire and dedication by becoming world champion for the fourth time thanks to an 18-8 success against Carter before two more crucible victories in 2013 against Barry Hawkins (18-12) and Kyren Wilson (18-8) in 2020.
“I’m coming to the end of my career, so every win now is nice,” O’Sullivan said a decade ago. “If I can pull off a tournament here and there now, that’s what I want. It would be nice to come out on top.”
Every dog has its day, but for O’Sullivan it’s been another decade and counted since his Berlin shine.
It stays golden even by its own trend standards.
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