The final of the 2017 World Open will be contested between Ding Junhui and Kyren Wilson after both emerged from tight semi-final encounters on Saturday in Yushan.
Wilson just about got the better of twice former champion Mark Allen in a dramatic clash that went the distance.
Ding, meanwhile, delighted his legion of home supporters in China with a 6-4 victory over Luca Brecel as he continues his bid for a record sixth ranking event title on home soil.
Neither Ding nor Wilson were at their best in their respective last four fixtures, but both managed to do just about enough to reach the fifth final of the campaign.
It was always going to be difficult for England’s Wilson to repeat the heroics of his quarter-final affair with Mark Williams, when he compiled a hat-trick of tons amid amassing 503 unanswered points in a 5-1 drubbing of the former world number one.
Yet, the Kettering cueist kept one step ahead of Allen most of the way through in what was in general an even tie and, despite a late golden chance for the Northern Irishman to steal it at the death, Wilson just about scrambled through in a nail biter.
Ding, by contrast, was the much better player for large periods of his match with the China Championship winner, but a few lapses in concentration arguably made the scoreline flatter the Belgian.
From early on this week, there has been a growing sense that this tournament could be Ding’s for the taking and the 30 year-old is now just one match away from collecting a 13th ranking crown.
It’s exactly twelve months since his last triumph, when he captured the Shanghai Masters that was previously always scheduled at this period in September.
Funnily enough, Wilson’s sole ranking success came at the same destination two years ago when he memorably pipped Judd Trump in a thriller 10-9.
The 25 year-old will have to deny another legend in the making if he’s to add to his tally this weekend.
Ding boasts a superior head-to-head record with four wins to Wilson’s two in their previous six meetings.
However, the latter prevailed in their last duel at the China Open in April and also defeated China’s hero in Shanghai en route to that sole ranking success in 2015.
Wilson has already tasted glory this season as a gold medallist in the World Games in Poland during the summer.
But Ding must be considered as the rightful favourite for this showdown, where a whopping £150,000 is at stake for the champion.
Both competitors possess good temperaments – the same might not have been said of Ding a number of years ago but he is a much improved player in that department these days – so a first session advantage might not necessarily indicate the ultimate winner.
Indeed, their form this week points to a final that could be close and potentially go all the way, which would be well received by the onlooking fans after a few one-sided finals this term already.
If Wilson comes out on top, he’ll upset plenty of the local fans who’ll be cheering their man on, but he certainly won’t mind about that as he attempts to build on his escalating career.
Ding, meanwhile, knows exactly what it takes to be triumphant in front of his adoring fans.
Who’ll win? We’ll find out on Sunday. Live coverage continues on Eurosport.
Categories: Snooker News