O`Sullivan stays on course for another world title

Ronnie O`Sullivan maintained his charge towards a third successive World Championship title as he established a 6-2 lead over Barry Hawkins in the first session of their semi-final on Thursday.

O`Sullivan has been in fine form during his pursuit of a sixth world crown of his career since coming from behind to defeat Joe Perry in the second round at Sheffield`s Crucible Theatre.

O`Sullivan swept past Shaun Murphy, himself a former world champion, in the quarter-finals with a session to spare and, in a repeat of last year`s final, wasted little time in establishing a four-frame lead in the best of 33 contest.

He took the first of the semi-final with a break of 63 before Hawkins levelled with a contribution of 96 and briefly went ahead with a break of 76.

But it was one-way traffic from then on, Hawkins`s mistakes and O`Sullivan`s skill seeing the champion, who made a break of 108 in the seventh frame before a missed red from his opponent let him take the next, pull ahead.

The second semi-final was an Anglo-Australian clash between Mark Selby and Melbourne-born Neil Robertson, the 2010 world champion, who in his quarter-final win over Judd Trump became the first player to make 100 competitive century breaks in a tour season.

Selby established a 5-3 overnight lead after world number one Robertson made a break of 130 in the final frame of the day.

Robertson came from 5-1 down to beat Selby 10-7 in the final of the UK Championship, snooker`s second-most important tournament, in December.