Ronnie O’Sullivan turns 38 today and, judging by his performance at the UK Championship in York last night, he will remain a major force for several years yet.
O’Sullivan blew Robert Milkins away 6-0 in 69 minutes. Potting cleanly and not so much controlling as ordering the cue ball around the table, he made a string of sizeable breaks to book his quarter-final place.
O’Sullivan now faces Stuart Bingham, who ran him so close in the Champion of Champions final in Coventry last month.
Neither man played their best in that match but O’Sullivan exhibited the patience and discipline which have also been in abundance at the Barbican this week. He seems calm, relaxed and willing to take the rough with the smooth. It makes him dangerous.
Neil Robertson said in Coventry that, having lost to Milkins in the first round at the Crucible last season, he was in no mood to watch any of the World Championship but tuned in for O’Sullivan’s matches and learned a great deal as a result, particularly in terms of how he kills frames off with such ruthless efficiency.
It seems to have rubbed off on Robertson, always a fine player but now one with a tight all round game. When he gets in he invariably makes a pile, as evidenced by the 54 centuries he has already made this season.
Robertson eased through 6-1 over Joe Perry last night and this afternoon faces Stephen Maguire, a tough competitor who could well cause him problems.
Tonight, Mark Selby, yet to hit top gear but playing well enough, takes on Barry Hawkins, who beat him in the second round of the World Championship earlier this year.
Ricky Walden, who survived an error strewn ending to his match with Ding Junhui, meets Mark Allen.
Ding’s great run – 22 matches in major ranking events – had to end some time. He put up a great fight against Walden but eventually left him a dolly pink for victory.
Allen was unaccountably nervous early on against Judd Trump but from 4-2 down turned it around. Trump will be very disappointed that having so obviously been on top he failed to convert victory.