Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy will contest the Haikou World Open final after both emerging from their semi-finals with 6-4 victories on Saturday.
The English duo have won seven ranking event titles between them but it is perhaps their failure to land more that has curtailed their careers somewhat.
The pair will now have a chance to add to their collection when they face each other over the best of 19 frames in China tomorrow.
The pair opened up healthy advantages in their respective last four encounters but were almost pegged back to be taken the distance in tight affairs.
Murphy ended Mark Allen’s fantastic run of success in the event, but only when luck played a part in his favour for a second successive round.
The former world champion fluked the final black in a deciding frame victory over Graeme Dott on Friday and was the beneficiary of an in-off on a re-spotted black from his opponent after a lengthy battle in the 10th frame – automatically handing him his passage into the final.
It was a sad way for Allen’s two-year reign at the World Open to end but the Northern Irishman will be content enough in the fact that he has gone a long way in safeguarding his automatic qualification for the upcoming World Championship in Sheffield.
Murphy, meanwhile, continues his solid run of form of late that started when he won the Gdynia Open in Poland last month – his first professional title in almost three years.
His last main ranking event success was almost three years ago to the day when he overcame Martin Gould to win the inaugural PTC Grand Finals in Dublin.
Down through the years, Murphy has been one of the most consistent on the circuit, often reaching the quarter-final stage and beyond in several tournaments.
His failure to transform those runs into tournament victories has generally meant that he has never been considered one of the absolute cream of the crop – but his potential has always been dangerous, highlighted by wins at the Crucible and in the UK Championship.
Likewise Mark Selby, who overcame Marco Fu this morning and who has tended to reach more finals than his countryman but ultimately has had a similar problem of failing to attain additional silverware.
The 30 year-old’s record of only three ranking event victories from 10 finals has been often criticised, but it must be remembered that he has been triumphant in three Masters – one of the most difficult events to win on the calendar.
Both will certainly feel that their ability and presence in the business end of tournaments over the last decade or so should have garnered more success but they are both at an age where time is on their side to make the stats more in their favour.
Either way, it promises to be a close affair.
When on form, both players boast better than average skills in all important areas of the game – most notably, break building and tactical awareness.
Selby hammered Murphy 6-1 in the semi-finals of this year’s Masters but I suspect a closer affair this time around, with the latter perhaps shading it given his boost in confidence of late.