Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Hossein Vafaei and Ding Junhui defeats Judd Trump to reach UK final

World number one Ronnie O'Sullivan in action
Ronnie O’Sullivan won his seven UK titles in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2007, 2014, 2017 and 2018

Ronnie O’Sullivan marched into the UK Championship final with a comprehensive 6-2 victory over Hussein Vafaei.

The seven-time world champion, 47, proved too strong for Iran’s Vafaei to reach his ninth UK final in York.

He will play Ding Junhui on Sunday for the £250,000 first prize after he beat Judd Trump 6-4 in their semi-final.

“Sometimes survival is just the difference, it can help you win tournaments,” O’Sullivan told the BBC.

“He missed a few balls, let me off the hook a few times and didn’t put any pressure on me.

“I just want to do myself justice in matches and play well.

“Playing well under pressure is important, but I’m just motivated by cash.”

Breaks of 113 and 54 enabled world number one O’Sullivan to lead 2-0, but Vafaei, 29, rallied with a century and won a scrappy fourth frame to restore parity.

It was one-way traffic after that as the seven-time world champion showed his pedigree with breaks of 90, 60, 52 and 50 to secure a spot in his ninth UK Championship final.

O’Sullivan also said he is motivated by the opportunity to “ruin the careers” of his major rivals.

“I’m just hanging around so people don’t get as good as a career as me,” he said.

“If I could stop [Mark] Selby winning a few, and Judd winning a few, and Ding and [Neil] Robertson winning a few – just ruin their careers a little bit – that would be great. Sometimes that’s just a nice motivation to play.”

Vafaei, the world number 18, admitted: “I didn’t have my heart in front of my hero.

“My body just felt heavy. It felt like somebody had poured cold water on me.

“I’ve had a good tournament and only one man could stop me – and that was Ronnie O’Sullivan.”

O’Sullivan will be appearing in the final for the ninth time and is chasing a record-extending eighth UK title.

‘He smells blood and weakness’ – analysis

Stephen Hendry, five-time UK champion

It was just ultimate, top match-play from O’Sullivan. It’s phenomenal to watch.

Ronnie’s will to win is phenomenal. He’s just a winning animal.

Steve Davis, six-time UK champion

Ronnie O’Sullivan is such a great predator. He smells blood, he smelled the weakness and all of a sudden it spurred him on.

All the great players are great front-runners, but he just knows when the other guy is hurting. From in front, he’s almost unplayable.

He’s got the genius quality that very few people possess. He was in a great form. That was a banana skin match for him, which he made look very easy.

Ding shows grit to down Trump

Ding Junhui in action against Judd Trump at the UK Championship in York
Ding Junhui won his UK titles in 2005, 2009 and 2019

Ding is seeking to win his first ranking title for four years when he faces O’Sullivan in this year’s best-of-19 frame final.

The 36-year-old, who had to qualify for the tournament, having dropped out of the top 16 rankings, fought back from 2-1 and 3-2 down to beat Trump, this season’s form player with three titles.

Breaks of 124 and 50 allowed Trump to establish a slender advantage, but Ding responded with runs of 110, 88 and 84 to reach the final for a second year running.

“I’m really happy to be back in a final, it means a lot,” said Ding, who lost to Mark Allen in last year’s UK final.

“I needed to play my best because he’s [Judd] had a great start to the season, but I have a feeling I can play well in York because I’ve had success before here.”

A disappointed Trump, the 2011 UK champion, said: “I don’t think I’ve played really the whole tournament; I’ve just scraped through.

“It’s fine margins. I was missing balls I should have been potting. You get punished, but I wasn’t quite firing on full cylinders.”

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