Masters Semi-Final Preview

Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump completed the last four line-up of the Masters on Friday.

Judd Trump Masters
Judd Trump compiled a 129 in the deciding frame – photo courtesy of Monique Limbos. 

World champion Bingham prevailed in his quarter-final tie with John Higgins while Trump pipped Neil Robertson to the post in a thrilling high-quality encounter.

Both players remain on course to capture their maiden Masters title, with two semi-final clashes to look forward to on Saturday.

Trump, who compiled four centuries including a tournament high 140 total clearance in his 6-5 victory with Robertson, takes on Barry Hawkins while Bingham meets Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The ‘Rocket’ will be seeking revenge for his quarter-final defeat to Bingham in the 2015 World Championship which initiated his self-inflicted eight month hiatus from the sport.

Evidence from performances so far point to an O’Sullivan victory but it would be unwise to write off Bingham’s chances completely as he begins to find the results that had eluded him at the outset of his tenure as Crucible king.

That said, the 39 year-old will likely have to up his level considerably and hope that O’Sullivan downshifts a gear or two should he wish to embark on his first Masters final appearance.

Bingham is already in new territory having never before reached this stage at Alexandra Palace, while O’Sullivan will be featuring in his 12th Masters semi-final.

The 40 year-old’s only previous defeat in this round came in last year’s edition of the event when his title defence was dismantled by a rampant Robertson.

In 14 previous meetings ‘Ballrun’ has only managed to defeat O’Sullivan on three occasions, but interestingly all of those have come in major tournaments.

Prior to his victory in Sheffield last year, Bingham also got the better of his fellow Essex man in two UK Championships.

However, if O’Sullivan continues the kind of fluent break-building form that ousted world no.1 Mark Selby it’ll be very difficult for Bingham to find the tools to orchestrate an upset.

The second semi-final similarly seems to favour one player more than the other.

Trump will have gained so much confidence in his superb triumph over man of the moment Robertson.

Like Bingham, Hawkins has reached this business end of the Masters for the first time.

Indeed, the ‘Hawk’ hadn’t even won a match in the tournament before this year’s competition, so is already performing beyond expectations.

If Trump continues to score powerfully, though, it’s highly unlikely that Hawkins will be able to live with it, so his approach will probably be to contain the 26 year-old as much as he can.

The pair hasn’t met that often outside of the Championship League, but they do have previous in London when Trump came from 5-3 down to beat Hawkins in a first round decider three years ago.

Everything points to what could be a mouthwatering final between O’Sullivan and Trump which could add a new chapter to their budding rivalry.

The duo contested three thrilling finals last year and it’s arguably the clash that everyone wants to see on Sunday.

Click here to view the draw.

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