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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 12:01 GMT
Ronnie rockets past title rivals
By Saj Chowdhury

TEN STARS OF THE YEAR
The best snooker players of 2004

The year 2004 saw Ronnie O'Sullivan pick up his second world title but also come up against a new snooker nemesis.

The Chigwell star thrashed Stephen Hendry 17-4 in the Cruicible semi-final before overcoming surprise finalist Graeme Dott with an 18-8 victory.

O'Sullivan also won the Welsh Open and finished last season at the top of the world rankings and Order of Merit.

Come the 2004/2005 season newcomer Stephen Maguire made sure 'The Rocket' would not have it all his own way.

O'Sullivan may have picked up the World Championship crown, but there were other admirable performances at Sheffield's Crucible.

Scotsman Graeme Dott beat the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens on his way to reaching his first major final.

The 2003 champion, Mark Williams, suffered a shock second-round exit at the hands of Londoner Joe Perry.

Perry also had something to shout about when he collected 17,600 after making 145 - the tournament's highest break.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
Jimmy White
At the start of 2004, veteran Steve Davis almost produced a shock at the Welsh Open, but eventually fell to a 9-8 defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Next up was the Wembley Conference Centre where Leeds star Paul Hunter beat O'Sullivan 10-9 to win his third Masters title in four years.

Hunter again used his saucy 'Plan B' again with the help of partner Lyndsey Fell.

Peter Ebdon won his first ranking title since the 2002 World Championship when he picked up the Irish Masters.

Despite the emergence in recent years of new crowd favourites such as Ronnie O'Sullivan and Paul Hunter, there was still one player who shone above them all.

Veteran Jimmy White who had endured a relatively non-descript year reached the European Open final in Malta - his first major final since 1992.

He lost 9-3 to new star Stephen Maguire but made amends at the next event.

The 42-year-old produced a superb performance to overcome Hunter 9-7 in the Players Championship.

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan began the 2004/2005 season by beating Ian McCulloch to win the Grand Prix.

At the British Open, John Higgins won his first major title for three years, with victory over Stephen Maguire.

Scotsman Maguire, though, cemented his reputation as one of the hottest prospects in the sport by beating David Gray 10-1 to win the UK Championship.

Maguire, who beat O'Sullivan at York having taken his scalp at the British Open, ended 2004 as world number three.

The snooker year was also tinged with sadness after legend Eddie Charlton died at the age of 75.

The Australian reached three World Championship finals, but failed to pick up the prestigious prize.

He lost to John Pulman of England 39-34 in 1968, and Welshman Ray Reardon in 1973 and 1975, 38-32 and then 31-30 following a final-frame thriller.

However, Charlton did enjoy success, having won television's Pot Black title three times in the 1970s.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Ronnie O'Sullivan savours his status at world champion


Paul Hunter on his Masters victory



SPORTS REVIEW 2004

 

Highlights of 2004


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