World Snooker final 2012: Ronnie O'Sullivan wins fourth title
Ronnie O'Sullivan beat Ali Carter 18-11 to secure his fourth World Championship title at the Crucible.
O'Sullivan, 36, resumed the day 10-7 ahead and took the first four frames, including a quick-fire break of 101, his 12th century of the tournament.
Carter looked a beaten man but rallied to win three frames in a row and take the match into a final session.
"I don't think I've ever seen Ronnie O'Sullivan play so well for a whole tournament. He was very controlled and the balance in his game was magnificent. When he plays like that he truly is the greatest player ever. He's a demi-god with what he can do with a cue in his hand"
But Carter won only one more frame as the unstoppable O'Sullivan wrapped up proceedings in a little under an hour.
O'Sullivan, who had talked about retiring after his semi-final win, immediately announced his intention to take a six-month sabbatical from the game.
"A few people doubted me but I'll let them know when I'm not ready," the Englishman told BBC Sport. "I certainly haven't gone yet.
"I am going to enjoy my time off with my family and then assess the situation, but it's all good and I want to enjoy the moment."
O'Sullivan was delighted to share his triumph with his young son, Ronnie Jr, who joined his dad in the arena after victory had been clinched.
"It was the best. I didn't think I'd ever get the opportunity to share those moments with him so it was so nice to have him here," he added.
"I got a bit emotional before the match was over, it felt like just me and him in the whole arena. There was just this massive connection between me and him, the best feeling I've ever had in my life."
Carter, now a two-time runner-up, joked that he would win the title once his fellow Essex player had retired. "The better man won. He's a genius. It's the Ronnie O'Sullivan show, isn't it?
"I'm pleased for the game that he's carrying on playing. He's got so much more to give."
O'Sullivan, whose previous titles came in 2001, 2004 and 2008, is the oldest winner since his former mentor Ray Reardon claimed his sixth crown in 1978 at the age of 45.
"Barry Hearn may well find himself watching O'Sullivan doing the cha-cha-cha on Strictly one day and think to himself: "What poise; what personality; what class. It was a dark day in snooker when we lost him from the baize"
He joins last year's champion John Higgins on four titles and only Steve Davis and Ray Reardon, with six titles apiece, and seven-time winner Stephen Hendry, have lifted the trophy more times in the modern era.
O'Sullivan's victory, which earned him a cheque for £255,000, secured his position as second seed in all of next season's ranking events and his break from the game will not affect his ranking.
The final was a repeat of 2008, when O'Sullivan won 18-8, one of 11 victories over Carter in as many previous meetings in ranking events.
And while Carter's obdurate displays before the final suggested he would be a tougher nut to crack than four years ago, O'Sullivan, who demonstrated unerring focus throughout the tournament, simply had too much poise and too much class.
O'Sullivan was even suffering from food poisoning on Sunday, but that did not stop him registering a break of 141 during the first session - the highest in World Championship final history.
Multiple world title winners
7 - Stephen Hendry
6 - Ray Reardon
6 - Steve Davis
4 - John Higgins
4 - Ronnie O'Sullivan
He appeared to have shaken off the effects of his illness before Monday's opener, rattling in his third century-break of the match to stretch his lead to four frames.
Carter missed a relatively straightforward pink to hand his fellow Essex player the next frame, and the next two frames followed a similar pattern.
In the next, Carter had three chances to secure the frame but missed them all, before the 32-year-old, with only the colours to clear, missed two attempts at the yellow to allow O'Sullivan to surge into a 14-7 lead.
At that stage it looked like O'Sullivan might win the match with a session to spare, but Carter avoided that ignominy, returning after the mid-session interval to take a scrappy frame before raising his arms in mock triumph.
Having steadied the ship, Carter compiled a battling 105, his first century break of the final, before reducing the gap to four courtesy of a break of 53. But O'Sullivan refocused, making a run of 64 to lead by five frames.
After the restart, O'Sullivan demonstrated his superior safety game once again, waiting for Carter to make a mistake before taking the frame with a run of 70.
Carter took the next, capitalising on a missed black by his opponent to chisel out a frame-winning break of 64, only for O'Sullivan to hit back, moving to within one frame of the title with breaks of 26 and 46 after some errant safety play from Carter.
And O'Sullivan wrapped up proceedings in the next, launching into his final assault on the world title with a thin cut to the middle which culminated in a match-winning break of 61.