|Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 31 July-16 August|
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app. Full details and times.|
Ronnie O’Sullivan says his performance was “embarrassing” as he reached the World Championship semi-finals with a 13-10 win over Mark Williams.
O’Sullivan, 44, now faces fellow Englishman Mark Selby, 37, in the last four in a repeat of the 2014 final.
Three-time champion Selby had earlier beaten Australia’s Neil Robertson 13-7 in their last-eight match.
“If the white was more than three foot away from the next ball it was not going in,” said O’Sullivan.
“If I had a cue action I could play. It was embarrassing. It was like going into the US Open with just a three-iron in your bag.
“It makes life so much more difficult but I found a way and managed to create amongst the balls. It was either really good or really bad.”
Five-time champion O’Sullivan’s last appearance in a Crucible final was his 18-14 defeat by Selby six years ago and he says he is not holding out much hope of avenging that loss.
“I have no consistency and I haven’t had that for six or seven years hence why I haven’t done well here,” O’Sullivan added.
O’Sullivan’s fighting display
‘The Rocket’ appeared to be in trouble after trailing 6-2 overnight but a wonderful revival on Tuesday afternoon saw him produce his best form against three-time champion Williams.
Four consecutive frames, including a break of 112, ensured O’Sullivan began the concluding session at 8-8 and after trading the first couple of frames he pulled clear.
A fortunate kiss on a red into the top-left corner helped him go 11-10 up before he made an exemplary 133 clearance in the next.
He wrapped up victory in dramatic fashion, winning an error-strewn 23rd frame on a re-spotted black to set up a repeat of the 2014 final.
Williams, who has now lost to O’Sullivan on five occasions at the Crucible, believes he was beaten by the best player to have graced the game.
He said: “I think it boiled down to just a couple of bad flicks towards the end really.
“There’s a reason I haven’t beaten him here, it’s because he is the best player to ever play. He has probably cost me one, if not two world titles over my career and I have come up a little bit short again.”
Selby back to his best?
The Leicester player suffered a crisis of confidence in the wake of his third world title win in 2017, losing his world number one ranking as he won just two tournaments in the following two years and crashed out in the early stages in Sheffield.
Selby battled through the first two rounds against Jordan Brown and Noppon Saengkham this year – and believes he is back to somewhere approaching his best form, despite not making a century break in the match.
“Over the last 12 to 18 months I was questioning myself,” said Selby. “I had got so used to winning tournaments that when I wasn’t winning tournaments it became very damaging to my confidence.
“I was happy with my performance against Neil. I felt if I got a chance I could score, and my safety play was back up with how it was a few years ago.
“As a matchplay game it was right up there with my best performances. I can see the changes already, especially in my body language, so long may it continue.”
Robertson said: “It was a really tough game and apart from three or four frames in the match, every frame came down to the final few reds or the colours.
“Mark’s defensive safety was absolutely unbelievable. He didn’t let up really and I think he got his gameplan spot-on over the two days.”
‘So what that he hasn’t made a century break?’ – Analysis
John Parrott, 1991 world champion
Mark Selby has got progressively better through the tournament. There was a question mark over him coming in. He was a double-figures price with the bookmakers which is probably unheard of.
He wasn’t great in his first match against Jordan Brown but nobody is bothered about that now. He was good in the final session against Noppon Saengkham but he was good all the way through against Neil Robertson, keeping the Aussie away from the balls.
So what that he hasn’t made a century break? Do they put that on the trophy? Winning is the object of the exercise. He played great tactical matchplay and he has done his job.
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