Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will meet for the fourth time in as many months after coming through their respective second round matches in the Welsh Open 4-1.
A clash of eras, the O’Sullivan-Trump rivalry is quickly becoming one of the biggest and most exciting in recent memory.
The younger of the pair has enjoyed all the success so far with a trio of triumphs that commenced in a dramatic 4-3 thriller in the final of the Antwerp Open in November where the standard from both players was out of this world.
Similarly enthralling battles ensued at the UK Championship and The Masters, both going the way of the 22 year-old newest face of the sport, which led Trump to perhaps arrogantly suggest that O’Sullivan could still win titles as long as he himself wasn’t in his way.
Well, that was certainly the case at the German Masters where O’Sullivan won his first ranking event title since 2009 with victory over Stephen Maguire in the final, who had already done the dirty deed of disposing of Trump.
This is Ronnie’s first chance then to gain a little bit of revenge for those defeats under the guise of his renewed form and an increasingly confident aura around the table.
O’Sullivan still makes more mistakes than he did five years ago but the key is that it is not nearly as many as he did this time twelve months ago – which will instil fear in whoever his opponent is.
It is hard to say who will start the match as favourite – another frenetic final frame could be in store – but either way it is set up beautifully for the newest chapter in this saga.
Both players could have been tested further today but both Mark Williams (v O’Sullivan) and Stuart Bingham (v Trump) wasted opportunities to keep the encounters close early on.
With the quarter-finals reverting back to the more regular best of nine frames format, it offers the players a little more breathing space at the outset of the contest.
Elsewhere, world number one Mark Selby didn’t play much better than in his tight duel with Sam Baird in the last 32 but still had enough in the tank to overcome a lacklustre Martin Gould 4-1 and will play Stephen Maguire for a place in the semi-finals after the Scotsman edged Matthew Stevens 4-2 in a high-quality affair.
Finally, Stephen Lee opened his match with Tom Ford with a classy 129 and eventually sealed another 4-1 win after the game had taken a scrappy turn towards the end while Mark Allen trounced Stephen Hendry 4-0.