Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins will meet in a mouthwatering final of the Champion of Champions in Coventry on Saturday.
The duo, with nine World Championship titles between them, will renew a rivalry which dates long before even they turned professional in 1992.
Since then the pair has featured persistently in the higher echelons of the sport, collecting an array of titles and each garnering a reputation as being one of the best players the game has ever produced.
This was never more evident in their respective semi-final victories on Friday.
Higgins denied China’s Ding Junhui in a decider despite the fact that the latter compiled an incredible four century breaks.
Later, O’Sullivan knocked in three tons of his own to bury 2015 runner-up Mark Allen 6-2, despite the fact the Northern Irishman boasted a couple of centuries of his own.
Victory for the ‘Rocket’ extended his exemplary record at the Ricoh Arena, having now won 11 straight matches at the venue following his previous title successes in 2013 and 2014.
In those finals O’Sullivan ousted Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump but never, aside from possibly Stephen Hendry, has the 40 year-old replicated a rivalry like the one he has produced with Higgins.
Somewhat amazingly, it is nine years since they have featured in a final against each other, when O’Sullivan won the 2007 Premier League crown.
Not long before that, Higgins emerged victorious in one of the classic Masters finals of 2006 when the Scot countered his opponent’s break of 60 in the final frame with an unbelievable 64 clearance to lift the trophy.
In total, the two former world number ones have contested 16 finals since 1995 with the record standing at 10-6 in favour of O’Sullivan.
That doesn’t count for too much at the moment, though, not just because they haven’t traded blows for a long time but also considering Higgins’ incredible form over the last couple of weeks.
If the ‘Wizard of Wishaw’ manages to triumph, he’ll have pocketed an amazing £300,000 in total in that short period having tasted glory in the inaugural China Championship last Saturday in Guangzhou.
The showpiece clash will be one that both will surely relish and it is almost impossible to predict who will come out on top.
Given their age, it is a wonder whether this will be the last time fans will get to enjoy a showdown of such stature between the two greats, but perhaps this is a precursor to a season of renewed dominance.
Either way, it promises to be a grandstand affair, one which should not be missed just in case it’s the last opportunity to witness O’Sullivan and Higgins battle it out for ultimate silverware.
Categories: Snooker News