Byline: Clive Everton at Wembley
Paul Hunter recovered from a 6-2 interval deficit to beat Fergal O'Brien 10-9 in the Benson & Hedges Masters after an extraordinary finale early this morning.
The 46-minute decider was excruciatingly tense. Both players had at least two clear match-winning chances, but finally it was Hunter who got home on the colours to win 10-9 and secure the most important title of his six-year professional career.
Of his inspired spell which brought him four centuries in six frames, he said: "I don't know where that came from. I was missing loads of balls all over the place."
After an error-strewn opening gave O'Brien a 6-2 lead, Hunter made inroads on his deficit by winning two of the first three frames of the evening. A 52 clearance gave him the first on the black; O'Brien won the second after needing a snooker; a three cushion positional shot from yellow to the awkwardly situated green was the key to Hunter's winning clearance to pink as he closed to 4-7.
Abruptly, the match changed gear into overdrive. Back to back centuries of 129 and 101 brought Hunter to within a frame; O'Brien's 88 restored a two frame gap at 8-6.
Runs of 29 and 75 gave Hunter the next without reply and with consecutive total clearances of 136 and 102 - making it four centuries in six frames for the flying Yorkshireman - he led 9-8.
By leading 44-0 in the next, he carried his run of unanswered points to 372 but O'Brien, who is invariably tenacity personified, chipped away at his arrears and finally potted the pink to level at 9-9 before the final drama unfolded.