Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will meet in a home-televised final for the third time this season after coming through their respective World Grand Prix semi-finals in contrasting fashions in Wales.
The English duo have already locked horns in the finals of the Champion of Champions and UK Championship this season, two contests that captured the imagination with mesmorising performances.
Each time the ‘Rocket’ raced in front only to be dramatically drawn back in by the young pretender, then for experience to duly tell in the end on both occasions.
Can it be third-time lucky for Trump, or is O’Sullivan about to recapture his stranglehold on UK-based tournaments once again?
Yesterday’s last four clashes could not have been any more different.
Trump was on the brink of defeat when he trailed Martin Gould 5-1 following a superb sequence of play from his fellow Englishman.
Yet, the 25 year-old stormed back to deny his opponent what would have arguably been the biggest win of his career, eventually taking the tie 6-5.
What was perhaps a little surprising to some was the manner in which Trump turned things around – not by a sequence of quick-fire smashing breaks, yet by tying Gould up in knots through excellent safety and tactical nouse.
This is a side of the game that the former world no.1 has worked hard on during the last 12 months as he attempts to be regarded again among the elite of the elite.
Blessed with a terrific attacking game, Trump’s stock will continue to rise should he master the key defensive approach which has brought contemporaries Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui so much success.
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, as expected performed better with the format for the semi-final lengthened and the fact that the event was approaching the business end of proceedings suiting him down to a tee.
The 39 year-old wasted little time in seeing off the challenge of Stuart Bingham, who had pushed him so close at the same stage in York last December.
That encounter went all the way but ‘Ballrun’ was down on his luck this time as he couldn’t even muster a single frame against the five-time world champion in a 6-0 hammering.
The final between O’Sullivan and Trump is a difficult one to call.
O’Sullivan must start as the favourite, primarily because he is who he is, but also because of the two wins he holds over Trump in those other major showdowns.
However, that Trump got so agonisingly close both times proves that he is not too far behind and his new-found dedication to consistently playing the right shot could stand him in good stead today.
What the Australian Open champion cannot really afford to do is fall too far behind like in the previous two bouts.
Even though he almost managed to achieve the comeback, ultimately O’Sullivan always had that safety net of a large cushion which gave him umpteen chances to complete the victory – one of which he was inevitable bound to take.
O’Sullivan will be looking for more of the same but, if it’s tight throughout, it could be third-time lucky for Trump.