Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will face each other for the 2014 UK Championship title today in York.
It marks a repeat of the recent Champion of Champions final that saw the pair of Englishmen play out a stunning exhibition of devastatingly high scoring.
The ‘Rocket’ won that contest 10-7 and it’ll be another best of 19 tie to decide who walks away with this week’s trophy from the Barbican Centre.
While Stuart Bingham and Stephen Maguire represented serious challenges in their respective semi-final encounters, O’Sullivan and Trump’s progress into Sunday’s showdown provide the majority of fans with their dream final.
Both of these fierce competitors are known for their fast-paced, attacking style of play which should lead to a memorable match in front of a packed, enthusiastic crowd.
They each have their own legion of fans but obviously any big tie featuring five-time world champion O’Sullivan, especially on home soil, will guarantee a raucous atmosphere.
The 39 year-old will start as the favourite but, in reality, it is his opponent who is arguably playing the best snooker of the championship.
O’Sullivan has shown flashes of brilliance, notably his magnificent maximum in his last 16 whitewash win over Matthew Selt, but has had quiet spells in almost all of his rounds so far and perhaps should have been made to pay in the semi-final against Bingham.
‘Ballrun’ was striking the ball superbly when a superb 137 extended his lead over O’Sullivan to 4-1 but the 38 year-old, having never participated in a major ranking event final, began to think about the winning post which allowed Ronnie in to pounce.
A particular aspect of O’Sullivan’s game that he appears to be struggling with is his long potting, with distinctly low success rates throughout the event up until this point.
That said, he did pot a wonderful long red in the decider with Shanghai Masters champion Bingham, which proved that his confidence in his own ability when the pressure was at its highest remained intact.
He’ll be lucky to get away with as many errors in that aspect of the game against Trump, though, who looks almost as good in among balls as he did during his dominant breakthrough 18-month spell in 2011 and 2012.
A nervy conclusion to his own last four battle with Maguire almost provided a second final frame thriller but Trump managed to withstand the Scot’s spirited fightback from 4-0 and 5-1 down to eventually prevail 6-4.
Success for both men would constitute a significant milestone in their careers.
For O’Sullivan, it would present him with a fifth UK Championship crown, seven years after he last tasted glory, to go along with his quintet of World Championship and Masters titles.
Meanwhile, for Trump, triumphing in York for the second time would complete a turnaround in fortunes that began by winning the Australian Open in the summer, and which would mark his return to the cream of the elite alongside O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui.
A tremendously difficult final to predict, snooker will feasibly be the real winner as two of the sport’s great entertainers cap off what has been an enthralling UK Championship.
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