A tearful Ronnie O'Sullivan hailed his "greatest" ever win after securing an historic seventh World Snooker Championship at The Crucible.
O'Sullivan, 46, went into Monday's penultimate session in total control, leading Judd Trump 12-5 after a dominant display on Sunday. Any thoughts of procession were soon disbanded though, with Trump taking six of the first eight frames to leave things at 14-11.
'The Rocket' regained his composure in the final session though, starting with breaks of 82 and then 88 to end any hopes of a famous fightback. The pair shared the next two frames to into the interval at 17-12, leaving O'Sullivan one frame from history.
Trump delayed the inevitable by winning the next one, but a break of 85 from O'Sullivan sealed matters, to rapturous applause from the Sheffield crowd. And after emotionally embracing both Trump and his family members, a choked up O'Sullivan spoke of how much he's 'loved' this year.
"As far as I'm concerned this fella [Trump] is already an all-time great the way he plays the game," he told Hazel Irvine, of the BBC. "I tried to be as relaxed as I could but that is probably the greatest result I've had against somebody like Judd."
The triumph saw him draw level with the legendary Stephen Hendry on seven titles, but he insisted that never served as motivation: "It never has and I've never bothered about records," he said. "Don't get me wrong when you get them you look and go 'oh that's nice' but I've never performed well if I'm going for stuff like that, I just try to enjoy the game, compete, and enjoy being on the circuit.
"I work hard at my game and when you do that you just let the snooker gods decide to do what they're gonna do. And these 17 days they were on my side."
O'Sullivan also paid tribute to his family, and had more words of encouragement for Trump, who he backed to build on his maiden win at The Crucible in 2019: "We all knew Judd wasn't playing his best, but that's what a champion does, they get to the final and still nearly win it and he'll be winning this title a few more times," he continued, before confirming he'll be back in 2023.
"I don't have targets. I've loved every tournament this year, I've just loved playing. I like to win but it's not the be-all and end-all. The Crucible brings out the worst in me - it's probably not the best idea but we'll probably go again next year!"
2019 champion Trump meanwhile, was magnanimous in defeat: "I want to say a massive congratulations to Ronnie. Its' been a pleasure to share a table with him," he said.
"It's an amazing achievement and he's the best player of all time. He keeps getting better and better. His determination and dedication are clear to see. He's been the best player this tournament by quite a distance."
"I was just glad to make a match out of it." On commentary, Scottish legend Hendry also lavished praise on his former rival, saying he'd taken the game "to new levels."