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Last Updated: Friday, 23 April, 2004, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
O'Sullivan overcomes Hicks
By Julian Shea
BBC Sport at the Crucible

Ronnie O'Sullivan
O'Sullivan was at his fluent best
Ronnie O'Sullivan's record-equalling five century breaks in a match earned him a 13-11 win over Andy Hicks.

Hicks stood level at 8-8 going into the final session but when play resumed he encountered a more composed O'Sullivan.

His fifth century for 10-10 was a fluid affair and he won the next two to move two frames clear for the first time in the match, the best so far this year.

Hicks did claw back to 12-11 before the number three seed, who had hit two tons in the morning, ended his resistance.

The first session of the day was blighted by more questionable behaviour from a fired-up O'Sullivan, who later vented his frustration on journalists.

"I am disappointed with the way you've all jumped to conclusions that I was disrespectful towards Andy," he said, referring to the criticism he got after conceding a frame that was still winnable.

As far as I'm concerned he's the best player ever to pick up a cue
Hicks on O'Sullivan
"I want to congratulate him, he pushed me all the way and he's a good man. I'm very disappointed in you guys.

"I've been through a lot in my life and I'll keep coming back whatever you try and do," he said.

Hicks, for his part, was happy to take the plus points from his defeat.

"It was a great match to be in and all day I was trying to contain him because as far as I'm concerned he's the best player ever to pick up a cue," he said.

"I'm so pleased with the way I played because I could have won it. A year ago I was thinking of packing it in but I've had a good year.

"I've learnt to be determined. If I do that next season I can go up the rankings."

The omens for the match looked good when O'Sullivan compiled a 123 break in the first frame, but neither player was able to dominate the opening exchanges.

Offensive

Hicks claimed a century of his own to go 4-2 ahead, but O'Sullivan rattled off his second ton to end the first session level at 4-4.

When play resumed on Friday, O'Sullivan turned on the style, making breaks of 127, 125 and 93 in the three shortest frames of the match so far.

But as he left the arena after the 12th frame he gestured to the crowd, although he insisted it was just a signal to a friend rather than anything offensive.

During the 15th frame he thumped the table in frustration after an error and later made an obscene gesture after a miss in the morning's final frame.

The ingredients were there for a fiery final session, but O'Sullivan recovered his composure on the resumption to clinch a hard-fought victory.


R O'Sullivan (Eng) 13-11 A Hicks (Eng) 134-7 (123), 0-90, 20-69, 72-23, 12-65, 0-129 (116), 68-51 (Hicks 50), 106-2 (101), 25-81 (57), 127-0 (127), 5-69, 125-7 (125), 93-0 (93), 0-127 (62, 64), 11-68, 74-55, 46-64, 92-0 (56), 9-78 (71), 125-0 (106), 65-14, 96-23, 43-83, 80-0 (80)




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