World Snooker 2012: Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Matthew Stevens

An inspired Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Matthew Stevens 17-10 to make the World Championship final for the fourth time.

The Englishman will be making his first appearance in the final since 2008, when he faced the same opponent Ali Carter and won his third title.

Resuming their semi-final 15-9 behind, Stevens knocked in a century break to keep his hopes alive, but O'Sullivan hit back with a superb 130 break.

He took the next in style to progress to the best-of-35 final.

Match stats

O'Sullivan Stevens

1733

Total points

1116

493

Balls potted

321

95%

Pot success

87%

69%

Long pot success

56%

91%

Safety success

88%

130

Highest break

116

O'Sullivan, the favourite for the title, dominated Carter in 2008, and 'The Captain' will have to play at his very best to put up a challenge this year, having never beaten the 'The Rocket' in 11 attempts.

"It's one of those tournaments, with so many sessions to play that you can't just pot the balls off the lampshade. I've tried to come here and play expressive snooker and be aggressive to show the fans that I can be good in spells," O'Sullivan told BBC Sport.

"I've learnt to control my emotions and not letting it all out. It's not always the most comfortable place to be and it's about limiting the damage to yourself.

"Ali has to be top four or five player, he has rocketed up the rankings since his 147 here. He has learnt so much from the last final and has become such a good, all-round player."

O'Sullivan was in inspired form. He had the strut of a man at the top of his game, kept his concentration throughout and did not allow his emotions to get the better of him.

"He's the best player I have ever seen when he hits the ball like that. It's a different level and when he plays left-handed we take it for granted now. I would knock the lampshade over if I had to play left-handed. Playing Ronnie is like trying to hold a tiger by the tail."

Stevens, who has now gone nearly a decade without beating his adversary, had no answer as O'Sullivan imposed himself on the match from start to finish.

Having taken a 5-3 lead in a tame opening session on Friday, O'Sullivan dominated the next session to move into a commanding position at 11-5. From then on, he never looked like being troubled by the Welshman.

Sharing the third session on Saturday gave Stevens hopes of making an epic comeback and he would have been boosted by a confident century in the opening frame of the last session.

But O'Sullivan responded with a magnificent 130 break, leaving him one frame away from victory.

And, after Stevens missed a red, he clinched victory and now has a chance to seal a fourth world title in four appearances.