Judd Trump and Stuart Bingham will contest the final of the European Masters after emerging from contrasting semi-final encounters on Saturday in Belgium.
The English pair got one over on their respective Chinese challengers to set up a repeat of their clash in the Welsh Open final earlier this year.
On that occasion in Cardiff, Bingham captured his first ranking trophy since his 2015 World Championship success by pipping Trump in a memorable encounter that went the distance.
Of course, “Ballrun” already had similarly fond memories from his Crucible run two years ago when he denied Trump in the semi-finals – also courtesy of a deciding frame triumph.
However, in total from their 14 previous battles outside the short format Championship League, the duo has an even record with seven wins apiece.
Trump maintained his attempt at defending the European Masters crown after a resounding 6-1 defeat of Cao Yupeng in the last four.
The 28 year-old lost the opening frame but was in a devastating scoring mood as he reeled off successive breaks of 61, 100, 63, 87, 115, and 79 to kill off Cao’s hopes of a maiden ranking event final appearance in resounding fashion.
Trump reached five ranking finals last season, collecting a brace of titles, as he begins to more consistently capitalise on the immense talent that he is blessed with.
The former world number one still has a few question marks over his big game mentality but he is putting himself in these kind of situations late in competitions on a more frequent rate than practically any other player on the circuit – arguably bar only world champion Mark Selby.
Trump will likely begin Sunday’s showdown as the favourite in Lommel, but it would be foolish to write off Bingham.
The 41 year-old fought back from 4-3 behind, winning the last three frames in recording a 6-4 victory against Zhou Yuelong in the semi-final.
Bingham has been a consistent threat over the last number of campaigns and has turned his career around from potentially being regarded as a journeyman to now being rightfully considered as one of the most efficient players in the game.
The Basildon potter might not have the swashbuckling attributes of a Trump or O’Sullivan, but he utilises his skills in a proficient manner that ultimately gets the very best out of himself.
It’s hard to predict how the final might turn out, particularly as Trump’s form, perhaps more than anyone else among the elite, can fluctuate suddenly.
It’s not unusual for the former UK champion to surge ahead in matches only to fall asleep and let things fall apart.
Bingham will be hoping that a story line like that will manifest itself because if Trump can prolong the kind of scoring prowess from his tie with Cao, it would be difficult for anyone to live with him.
That said, over the best of 17 frames there’s more chance that several chapters might develop and hopefully this affair will be as equally dramatic as their last final against one another in February.
Live coverage will be on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)
Categories: Snooker News