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ROCKET TO FACE CARTER IN FINAL

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Default ROCKET TO FACE CARTER IN FINAL

Ronnie O'Sullivan looked unstoppable again as he set up a clash with Ali Carter in the Betfred.com World Championship final.

The three-time former champion, brimming with desire and belief in Sheffield, destroyed Matthew Stevens' hopes with a 17-10 victory.

And now the tournament will see a repeat of the 2008 final, with Carter hoping for a more favourable outcome having been soundly beaten 18-8 on that previous occasion.

O'Sullivan then put the Crucible on retirement alert again as he warned he was ready to quit snooker.

This tournament has already seen the sport's most successful player of modern times, Stephen Hendry, call time on his career, and now crowd favourite O'Sullivan says he is seriously considering following the Scot into a life beyond the green baize.

"I don't intend to stay in the game long, even though I feel in a lot better place," O'Sullivan said.

"I've made that decision and this might - I'm not saying it is - be my last time in this tournament.

"I might consider having a good long break, a couple of years off or whatever. I've weighed up the pluses and the minuses and I'm quite comfortable with that decision.

"There's no better way for me than to have a good run at Sheffield and get to the final and if I win it, great, absolute bonus.

"I've had a fantastic time and it's got to come to an end sooner or later. I don't want to drag it out too long. I always said I'd like to go out on a high and getting to this final has been great. I'd love to go on and win it now.

"I'm not saying it's a guarantee but I think now is as good a time as ever. I know it might seem crazy but people close to me know what's going on. I've not been afraid to show how I feel. I feel in a good place to be able to say that. I've weighed up lots of things.

"Sometimes you've got to live life a little bit, maybe do a little bit of Strictly Come Dancing."

On hearing of O'Sullivan's retirement warning, Stevens said: "I hope he does (retire).

"I can't see him doing it, but you never know with Ronnie. If he did retire as world champion, what a perfect way to do it.

"But I think he loves the game too much - he loves the buzz out there, no matter what he says.

"But if he does go, then it's good for all the other players."

Carter completed his journey from the brink of retirement to a place in the final as he inflicted a painful defeat on Stephen Maguire.

Essex cueman Carter was suffering so badly with Crohn's disease, the bowel condition he was diagnosed with nine years ago, that he considered walking away from the snooker tour.

The World Championship would have been his last tournament but instead it could be the making of Carter.

The 32-year-old turned a 14-10 lead into a 17-12 triumph over Maguire, for whom the match appeared to be a miserable experience from start to finish.

Rarely did the run of the balls favour the Glasgow potter, who lost to John Higgins in his only previous Crucible semi-final five years ago.

Maguire also failed to produce the form which saw him send Stephen Hendry into retirement after a 13-2 quarter-final triumph.

Carter admitted reaching the final had surpassed his expectations. "I'm as surprised as you are," he said.

"I'm delighted to be through. The job's not done yet though.

"I'm not just happy to just be in the final, so we'll see what happens."

Maguire admitted he had underestimated Carter, saying: "I think in the first session I didn't give him enough respect."

And Carter saw that from the early stages of their exchange on Thursday.

"Stephen tried to stamp his authority and I think he thought he was going to beat me quite easily, the way he started the match," Carter said.

"I wasn't having any of it. I was up for it.

"I played some really solid stuff, there weren't any fireworks, and I got the job done."

Maguire regretted the way he played the match, and the defeat was a bitter blow.

He said: "It starts to hurt after a while when you get so close. That's a bad result. I don't really know how to take that one.

"I took a lot of hits in that match too, a lot of close frames.

"I felt like a punchbag at some stages.

"I'll get over it, I'm a big boy, but I missed an opportunity there to get my hands on that trophy."

Asked if he believed Carter could beat O'Sullivan, Maguire said: "No.

"Over the course of the final, Ronnie isn't going to let him off the hook the way I did and I think that will make the difference."
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