Peter Ebdon and Barry Hawkins will contest the final of the Australian Open after contrasting wins in the semi-finals in Bendigo.
Ebdon once again produced a professional performance that we have grown accustomed to seeing over the years and made relatively light work of Marco Fu in a 6-2 triumph.
Hawkins, on the other hand, was pushed almost all the way by in-form Mark Davis, eventually emerging a 6-4 victor in a high-quality affair.
For two players who have never reached a final of a ranking event before, the attacking, confident displays from both were excellent.
The game didn’t boast any centuries but it did provide a flurry of big breaks, including three consecutive runs of over 90 early on in the contest.
Played in front of a big crowd, Hawkins would have been forgiven for getting a little nervous when he was pegged back from 3-1 to 4-4 but ‘The Hawk’ refocused and took his best opportunity to date to reach a big-time final.
The 33 year-old had suffered defeat four times in the last-four of rankers in the past so he will be feeling it is about time that he got the monkey off his back.
Ironically, it may have just jumped across the table and onto his opponent’s shoulders because failure today meant a second successive semi-final loss for Davis following his defeat in Wuxi last month.
Hawkins will have to play just as well and probably even better if he wants to go one step further and claim a piece of silverware that has so far eluded his barren trophy cabinet.
Ebdon has been the star of the tournament and, as others have already alluded to, he is a player that seems to grow stronger and stronger the further he gets into the business end of an event.
The 41 year-old is often eliminated in the first round but when he gets as far as, say, the quarter-final stage it can sometimes feel inevitable that he will go on to win it.
Victory tomorrow would mark the tenth ranking event title of Ebdon’s illustrious career – illustrious being the key word as it would mean he would equal legend Jimmy White’s tally and surpass that of John Parrott.
That would mean only Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, John Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams would be ahead of him – along with the ‘Whirlwind’ that is quite the company to be held in.