Chatteris potter Joe Perry missed a golden opportunity to down ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan and land his first snooker Masters title on Sunday.
The 42-year-old – on the occasion of his ‘Triple Crown’ final debut – went ahead 4-1 against the defending champion and spurned an easy red ball pot for a 5-1 lead at Alexandra Palace.
O’Sullivan won seven frames on the trot to move 8-4 ahead before Perry fought back, aided by breaks of 117 and 92 at the London venue.
But the ‘Rocket’ – a year younger than Perry and appearing in his 12th Masters final – ensured he successfully defended his title and moved ahead of Stephen Hendry’s six Masters victories.
Perry reached his first Masters final after disposing of Barry Hawkins 6-5 in a thrilling semi-final on Saturday; while O’Sullivan had beaten Marco Fu 6-4. The cue ace had brushed aside Ding Junhui 6-1 in Friday’s quarter-final during an inspired tournament, which involves the world’s top 16 players.
Perry reached the final of one of the sport’s most prestigious events, the Dafabet Masters, following a stunning fightback on Saturday night.
The Chatteris man won the last four frames to beat Barry Hawkins 6-5, having trailed 5-2 and come back from needing a snooker in the ninth frame to keep the match alive.
A 70 break in the decider, including a brilliant brown along the baulk cushion, saw him into Sunday’s showpiece.
He told BBC Sport: “I should never have had a chance and I thought ‘Right, if I get one chance I’m going to go for it’.”
And, with his father Peter in the crowd, he paid tribute to his family’s support throughout his 26-year career.
He said: “You do doubt yourself as a snooker player. Every time you hit a bit of bad form and lose some matches, you do doubt yourself and you need people around you to keep driving you on.”
The Fenland star added: “I’ve proved a lot, that there is still some life left in me and it has given me the belief to go on and win a big one.
“At 4-1 up I got a bit carried away and it was not until I was 8-4 down I thought, ‘I’m going for it’.
“It’s given me the taste to go for more finals, it’s a great feeling to be involved and you take snooker up for nights like this. Fair play to Ronnie, even when he is not at his best he is still amazing.”
O’Sullivan said: “Joe played a brilliant tournament, a really good match and he should’ve beaten me.”