The China Championship final will be contested between Shaun Murphy and Luca Brecel on Tuesday in Guangzhou.
The pair emerged from gruelling semi-final encounters on Monday to set up a showdown for the £150,000 top prize.
Murphy fought back from 4-2 down to overcome Ali Carter 6-4 in a match bereft of any notable quality.
The duo struggled for any fluency for much of their semi-final and it eventually wore on Carter’s nerves as he failed to capitalise on numerous chances to pull clear after he established a 4-2 advantage.
Emotions were flying high for the “Captain” as he botched a routine clearance in the ninth frame to fall behind and Murphy duly pounced to seal what looked like an unlikely turnaround.
Brecel, meanwhile, similarly came from behind to deny the last remaining home hope from China, Li Hang.
Li had thrilled the crowd all week, playing all but one allotted frames in four previous rounds to get to this stage, and he was again punching above his weight when he fought back from 3-1 down to lead Brecel 5-4.
However, Brecel forced a decider – Li’s fourth of the tournament – and conjured up a courageous 75 just when it mattered the most to advance to the final.
The latter’s encounter concluded well after midnight so Brecel will not have long to recover, although the 22 year-old will surely be motivated with a maiden ranking event crown now within his grasp.
Brecel’s only previous appearance at this stage of a tournament was at the German Masters last year when he was denied glory by Martin Gould.
On this occasion, the Belgian faces an even more experienced and formidable foe with former world champion Murphy bidding for an eighth ranking event title.
As a result, the Englishman will understandably be a heavy favourite in Betway’s snooker betting odds on August 21 to capture what is the second ranking event of the season.
Murphy and Brecel have an interesting head-to-head record, though, with several notable affairs played between them in the past.
Arguably the most famous of their seven prior meetings was their UK Championship bout of 2012 when a teenage Brecel burst onto the scene to reach his first ranking event quarter-final and was cruelly denied by Murphy in a dramatic decider.
Indeed, Murphy narrowly boasts the superior advantage with four wins in total, although Brecel has won three out of their last four matches including a 4-2 triumph at the Riga Masters earlier this season.
That those three successes all came over the shorter best of seven guise could play a significant role as Murphy has emerged triumphant in all of their long ties in the more important matches at UK and International Championships.
This final, of course, will be played over the best 19 frames over two sessions, which is also something that the younger challenger will not be so used to.
Most key points indicate a positive outcome for Murphy but everyone is all too aware, especially in this tournament that has produced a whole host of shocks, that the most obvious result isn’t always the one that materialises.
With numerous first-time champions on the circuit of late, many commentators have been predicting that during this campaign Brecel’s turn will arrive.
The former European amateur champion has long been tipped as a star of the future and his rise into the higher echelons of the game could be just around the corner.
By reaching the final, Brecel is already on the cusp of jumping into the top 16 in the world rankings for the first time and victory would have him qualify for major tournaments like the Champion of Champions and potentially the prestigious Masters in January.
So many doors could be about to open for the “Bullet” but Murphy will rightly begin the fixture as the favourite.
The “Magician” has quietly gone about his business in this tournament, rarely hitting top form throughout.
If he mounts an early cushion he could use his experience to control the contest, but one suspects it’s not going to be quite as straightforward as that.
Click here to view the draw. (Times CET)
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