Mark Williams and Mark Selby will battle it out in the final of the 2011 Shanghai Masters after coming through contrasting semi-finals in China.
Selby demolished surprise opponent Mark King 6-0 in a speedy display and didn’t need to be at his best to overcome the qualifier.
King, who has all but guaranteed his place among the top 32 in the rankings with his run, has not appeared in a ranking event final in seven years and the pressure of the occasion showed as the Essex cueist failed to get going early on.
Selby wasn’t at his best but didn’t need to be and has the added bonus of being better rested for tomorrow’s final after his upcoming opponent, Williams, was made to work past midnight for his triumph over Neil Robertson.
The Welshman opened up a 3-1 advantage at the mid-session interval only for the Australian former world champion to clinch a topsy-turvy fifth frame on the black to reduce the arrears to one.
The next two frames were shared before Robertson took advantage of a tentative Williams to take the lead in the match for the first time at 5-4.
29 year-old Robertson, who has claimed at least one ranking event title in each of the last five calendar years before 2011, appeared set to complete the turnaround in frame ten.
However, a series of excellent pots on the colours from his Welsh opponent forced a decider – which he ultimately took to claim an important victory.
Tomorrow’s final is a repeat of the excellent German Masters final back in February where Williams came out on top 9-7 in front of a massive crowd.
However, the intriguing clash has added significance with Selby currently leading the provisional rankings ahead of Williams before October’s official revision.
Williams will be keen to keep his status as the world’s best player and will be aware that nothing short of a win tomorrow will be sufficient.
It will be interesting, though, to see if the 36 year-old has anything left to offer after a grueling battle with Robertson that took over four hours.
For Selby, it is an opportunity to quash doubters’ opinions that he has the consistency but not the mental ability to win an array of big titles in the game.
In addition, a title in the Far East tomorrow would be the Leicester potter’s second in a row following his PTC triumph at the Paul Hunter Classic in August.
Here’s hoping for a classic.
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