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Ronnie O'Sullivan in stunning form to book Masters 2024 final berth against Ali Carter

Despite being highly critical of Alexandra Palace after his win in the previous round, Ronnie O'Sullivan produced sublime semi-final performance to beat Shaun Murphy 6-2; O'Sullivan now eyeing eighth Masters title in Sunday's final when he will play Ali Carter, who beat Mark Allen 6-3

Image: Twenty-nine years after his first Masters title, Ronnie O'Sullivan remains on course for an eighth

Ronnie O'Sullivan produced a blistering performance to reach a staggering 14th Masters final and then delivered a cheeky message to snooker's younger generation of players, declaring that "they need to get their act together" if they want to beat him.

Two days after being highly critical of Alexandra Palace, the historic host venue for the Masters, after his quarter-final win - describing it as "disgusting" and "dirty" - the 48-year-old O'Sullivan showed his best form of the tournament so far to dispatch Shaun Murphy in just eight frames, winning 6-2.

The seven-time world champion will play Ali Carter, 44, in Sunday's final after the 2020 runner-up beat the 2018 champion Mark Allen 6-3 in the evening session.

Two of O'Sullivan's seven world titles were won against Carter in the final, in 2008 and 2012.

O'Sullivan is chasing a record-extending eighth Masters title, but first since 2017, and is now one victory away from becoming the Master's oldest victor in the 50th edition of the tournament.

He is already the tournament's youngest champion having first won the historic title aged 19 in 1995.

"I don't feel that old!" O'Sullivan replied when those statistics were put to him by the BBC after his victorious semi-final.

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"I know my age but I feel young in my mind, I feel young when I'm around the table.

Image: O'Sullivan produced four half-century breaks in his semi-final win over Murphy

"I feel a lot younger around the table when I'm playing these young players - they look old! Their brains are quite slow so for me, I feel like my brain is pretty quick around the snooker table, which is enough.

"They need to get their act together because I'm going blind, I've got a dodgy arm and bad knees and they still can't beat me!"

The seven-time world champion had apologised to the Ally Pally crowd, and his defeated opponent Barry Hawkins, for his performance in Thursday's quarter-final but was in more typical swashbuckling form on Saturday.

Murphy reeled off two superb three-figure breaks, including 131 in the third frame, but O'Sullivan's cavalier approach paid dividends with reds aplenty potted in this semi-final to delight a packed crowd.

"The start of the match there were a few mistakes but I cleaned it up a little bit," said O'Sullivan.

"I need to do that these days because I can't pot as well as these guys, but I can make good breaks among the balls and make up for it that way. Listen, I won the match, that's it."

Carter out to stop O'Sullivan's latest potential date with history

Image: Ali Carter is now just one more win away from claiming the Paul Hunter Trophy for the first time

Four years after losing 10-8 to Stuart Bingham in the Ally Pally finale, Carter secured a second appearance in the Triple Crown showpiece with a fine 6-3 win over Allen, a day on from the latter's 147 break.

After the second frame, play had been temporarily paused for around 10 minutes for a member of the crowd to receive medical attention before Carter made successive century breaks to lead 3-1 at the interval.

Another well-crafted 105 break extended Carter's lead at 4-1 before Allen stopped the run with a century of his own in the fifth frame. Allen then made it 4-3 after Carter had missed a red when looking set on a break of 55.

Carter regrouped to take the next frame 87-8 before there was another brief pause in the ninth frame when a woman in the audience needed medical attention.

It was Carter, though, who kept his composure through a tense finale after both men missed chances before he cut a thin blue to the bottom corner before sealing victory on the pink.

"I really held myself together well and delighted to have a crack at the Rocket [on Sunday]!" declared Carter.

"I am relishing the challenge."

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