The tales of rivalry between the two legendary cue-men continues
2004 world championship semi-final – Almost all the encounters until this point have been dominated by Stephen Hendry, with Ronnie putting up a fight and struggling to get back into the match. However this contest proved to be a different
and notable affair, as Ronnie totally dominated the match. On the way to his second world title, Ronnie knocked Stephen out with his destructive high-quality play.
The match started with both players sharing the first two frames, indicating another classic match filled with a sense of competition; however Ronnie won the next five frames in a ravishing manner to gear up the lead to 6-1.
Winning a frame in the beginning of the second session, Hendry tried to put up a fight to mimic Ronnie but useless, as Ronnie maintained his authority and dominion. O’Sullivan with his man-on-a-mission attitude was running a riot up against Hendry, as with
affirmative breaks of 81, 92, 52, 117, 58 and 63 he extended his lead to ten frames. With a score-line of 13-3, Ronnie was all over the place in complete control.
This was the first time that one of these completely ran over the other, as Ronnie just did, with further breaks of 71, 93, and 79 Ronnie won the match in a ravishing and crushing manner, with a convincing score-line of 17-4.
2005 Welsh open final – This is one of the memorable matches in the history of snooker, as the two snooker giants fought hard to win the title. In the final of a professional ranking event, the environment is naturally tense and bitter.
However if the contestants in the final are Ronnie and Stephen, one can see the clouds of animosity and sheer rivalry hanging all over.
In what appeared to be a grappling and a rough-house match, it was Stephen who opened in a great form and all set to avenge his last crushing defeat at the hands of Ronnie. Hendry led the contest 3-1 with the breaks of 92, 67 and a glistening 140.
Ronnie has maintained his fighting and never-say-die attitude over the number of years, this time he did what one would have expected from the rocket. Ronnie hit straight back to win the next three frames and get himself in the lead for the first time in
the contest. Ronnie led the match until Stephen surged ahead with breaks of 69 and 93 to regain the lead.
As the two old foes continued to exchange frames, Ronnie displayed great snooker skills as he scored marvelous centuries to drag the match into the deciding frame. Playing extra-ordinary snooker until this point and continued to do so, Ronnie took his chance
in the final frame, scoring a superintended break of 67. Ronnie clinched the titles after winning a well-fought match with a narrow score-line of 9-8.
2006 UK championship quarter-final – This match will be remembered forever in the sport of snooker, as another controversial move was made by Ronnie in this particular match.
Stephen won the match with a convincing score-line of 9-1; however it was followed by one of the many controversies surrounding Ronnie O’Sullivan. As Stephen led the match 4-1 with high chances to take the next frame after Ronnie played a sluggish shot,
Ronnie shook hands with Stephen and walked out of the auditorium, leaving the audience and his opponent stunned in disbelief.
As Ronnie O’Sullivan has been generating number of controversies over the years, this happened to be another from the controversial rocket. As Ronnie shook Stephen’s hand he said that “I have had enough of it”.
O’Sullivan was disturbed and not in the right mind set, as Hendry played extremely well, with some affirmative breaks. Later following Ronnie’s walk out, Stephen was declared the winner.
2008 world championship semi-final – After the previous controversial clash between the two old rivals, they met two years later in the semi-final of the world championship in 2008. Hendry opened the match with a beautiful century break
of 140 and extended his lead to a score-line of 4-1. Hendry looked to be in a great form indeed. However, Ronnie hit back by winning three frames and leveling the score 4-4 before end of the first session.
From this point onwards, Stephen just sat in his benches and watched Ronnie play in a destructive manner. Ronnie won the next ‘twelve’ frames with the help of four centuries and acclamatory breaks of score over 80.
O’Sullivan dominated the match in his aggressive style, winning the semi-final match with a convincing score-line of 13-6, as he moved ahead on his way to the third world title.
Stephen is above the age of 40 now and fighting hard to maintain his status quo, ranked 14th in the world rankings, Stephen languidly is losing grip over his game. Whereas Ronnie is still very much out there, carrying his traditional style to
win more games and prize money. The question that arises here is, whether we will see more of this old and classical rivalry in the future?