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Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Ali Carter in Masters final to claim eighth title after evening fightback

Ronnie O'Sullivan turns 3-6 deficit into 10-7 victory against Ali Carter at Alexandra Palace to win the Masters for the first time since 2017; O'Sullivan sets up a first shot in his career at clean sweep of this season's Triple Crown events at World Championship in April

Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan has won back-to-back Triple Crown events in the same season for the first time

Ronnie O'Sullivan fought back to defeat Ali Carter and claim a record-extending eighth Masters title to become the historic tournament's oldest winner, having already been its youngest, in a closely-fought final at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.

The 'Rocket' trailed Carter 3-6 after the first frame of the deciding evening session but upped his game when it mattered most to win seven of the final eight frames and secure a 10-7 triumph to claim the Paul Hunter Trophy for the first time since 2017.

As with the UK Championship, which he won for an eighth time in December, the 48-year-old O'Sullivan is now the oldest and youngest winner of the Masters tournament.

Image: Ali Carter has now suffered three defeats to O'Sullivan in the finals of Triple Crown events

His latest triumph comes 29 years after his first in 1995, when he was 19.

"I don't know how I've won this tournament, to be honest with you," O'Sullivan told the BBC.

"I've just dug deep. I've tried to play with a bit of freedom and then tonight I just thought try to keep Ali honest and if he's going to win it he's going to have to scrape me off the table.

"I just wanted to see if he had it at the end."

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Image: O'Sullivan won three frames to level the match at 6-6 in the space of just 37 minutes

Significantly, the victory also means O'Sullivan has won the first two Triple Crown events of the season for the first time, with the World Championship to come from April 20.

Only Steve Davis (1987-88), Stephen Hendry (1994-95, 1995-96) and Mark Williams (2002-03) have won all three Triple Crown events in the same campaign.

Tied on seven world titles with Hendry since 2022, O'Sullivan also has a second chance to set a new outright record of eight crowns.

Carter's early control fades as relentless Ronnie races back

For the 44-year-old Carter, the Sunday evening turnaround meant his long hoodoo in matches against countryman O'Sullivan continued.

The Englishman has now only beaten the seven-time champion once in 19 meetings, with the sequence having already included two losses in World Championship finals (2008 and 2012) before Sunday's showpiece.

Carter recorded three century breaks in the final, including an impressive 127 in the one frame he did win in the evening session, to set a new landmark of nine centuries overall during the Masters tournament, one more than O'Sullivan's previous record.

But that impressive feat will likely prove scant immediate comfort as Carter's wait for a first win in a Triple Crown tournament continues, four years after he also surrendered a mid-match lead in the final at Allly Pally against Stuart Bingham.

Having already beaten three former world and Masters champions in his matches on the way to the final - including defending title holder Judd Trump in the quarters - Carter looked assured from the off against O'Sullivan.

Although his opponent won the opening frame, Carter struck his first century break (106) in the second and then went 2-1 up. O'Sullivan levelled things up again in the fourth frame with a century of his own (125) but then Carter won three of the next four frames to end the session 5-3 up.

That became 6-3 at the start of the evening's action but O'Sullivan then took just 37 minutes to reel off the next three frames and draw the match back level. And although Carter impressively hit back with a break of 127 to nose ahead again, he could not sustain that form even when his opponent made errors and gave him chances to return to the table.

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