If anyone needed reminding, Ronnie O’Sullivan proved once more last night why, while the rankings may not testify to the fact, he is the best player in the world.
The likes of Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui and Mark Selby are brilliant players, worthy of being crowned champion of any event, but there really is only one Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The 38 year-old yesterday destroyed Ricky Walden 6-0 in less than an hour, accumulated a record 556 unanswered points in the process.
The ‘Rocket’ was always going to start the quarter-final Masters tie as favourite but nobody would have expected such a dominating performance.
That said, nobody should be all that surprised either because the man has shown on countless occasions before what he is capable of.
In truth, when the five-time world champion produces that level of quality there is nobody in the game who can live with him. It’s simply unbeatable.
Sometimes, however, players can bog O’Sullivan down with more defensive play and frustrate him by getting inside his head.
That’s what Selby has done so well in the past and there is now the distinct possibility of an intriguing third final between the pair in the tournament on Sunday.
That stands as one win apiece after the 2009 and 2010 finals concluded with dramatic tight affairs.
I think it’s fair to say that’s the showpiece that most people will be hoping for but they will have to overcome tricky semi-final obstacles first.
O’Sullivan’s challenge will come from Stephen Maguire after the former UK champion ousted world no.1 Neil Robertson 6-2.
Robertson was never at the races this week and shouldn’t have even progressed from his first round clash with Mark Allen.
Maguire wasn’t at his best either, suffering from a bout of tonsillitis, but had enough in reserve to easily advance and make only his third last four appearance in the Masters.
The Scot doesn’t have the best record against O’Sullivan – then again, who does? – with only four triumphs from 18 attempts and will have to considerably up his standard should he wish to reach his maiden final.
O’Sullivan hit breaks of 79, 88, 72, 134, 77 and 56 in his contest with Walden and should he repeat that performance there will only be one outcome.
Selby, meanwhile, takes on Shaun Murphy in Saturday’s opening encounter.
Neither have been playing particularly well but both came through two difficult matches to get this far.
Selby, Mr. Decider, went the distance with Mark Davis and John Higgins while fellow Englishman Murphy came from behind to pip Asian duo Ding Junhui and Marco Fu 6-4.
This clash promises to be another close one and a difficult one to predict at that.
Defending champion Selby will undoubtedly begin the match as favourite and rightly so, but Murphy has the capability to cause what would be a minor upset.
The 31 year-old is a world and UK champion but hasn’t won anything of note in almost three years so he should be well up for the challenge.
Selby is quite literally a master at this event, though, so he will of course be a tough nut to crack.
Either way, two competitive semi-finals should produce an eagerly anticipated final for Sunday – with all four of major pedigree.