Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump will contest the final of the Shanghai Masters in China on Saturday.
The English pair set up a mouthwatering showdown for the £150,000 top prize after emerging from their respective semi-final ties on Friday.
Trump lost his first frames of the week, ending a 25-frame winning run in the tournament, but managed to pull away at the crucial juncture of his clash with close pal Jack Lisowski when the scores were tied at 3-3.
O’Sullivan, meanwhile, recorded his fourth triumph of the season against old rival John Higgins to reach a second successive final and a third in less than a month.
Last week, the “Rocket” suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of Shaun Murphy in the Champion of Champions decider but before that tasted glory in October’s English Open in Barnsley.
Of course, Trump has also savoured the champagne moment this season following his successful defence of the European Masters last month as well.
Indeed, O’Sullivan and Trump are probably two of the most in-form players of the season in general and it’s a fitting conclusion to what has been an entertaining, albeit lightning fast, week of action in Shanghai.
O’Sullivan and Trump have conjured up many great battles already and here’s hoping that their attacking approach can lead to a classic in front of what will surely be a packed arena at the Shanghai Grand Stage.
The duo has met 20 times in all competitions with the scores tantalisingly tied at ten victories apiece.
Six of those duels have already occurred in finals, with Trump boasting the better record following wins over the five-time world champion in the Antwerp Open, World Grand Prix, Championship League, and the 2016 European Masters in Romania – when the 28 year-old dramatically fought back from 8-6 down to prevail in a deciding frame thriller.
O’Sullivan, though, will have fond memories of his victories in the more lucrative and prestigious UK Championship and Champion of Champions showdowns from 2014.
Their last battle came in this summer’s Hong Kong Masters when O’Sullivan prevailed courtesy of a final black ball finish – in keeping with so many of their ties that have ended up as tight affairs.
O’Sullivan has mixed memories of playing in Shanghai Masters finals with a notable 2009 triumph to his credit, albeit coming a year after a shock defeat to Ricky Walden at the same stage in 2008.
For Trump, the former world number one is desperate to make it third time lucky after a brace of prior letdowns at the final stage in 2012 and 2015.
With both players producing such consistent snooker at present it’s hard to separate them but, even with Trump’s stellar head-to-head record, it’s natural to pick O’Sullivan as the marginal favourite.
Both players have been prone to feel the pressure in recent times when silverware is within their grasps so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the big breaks mixed in with some tense exchanges come the main stretch.
Whatever the outcome, it promises to be a cracking climax in China and one that everyone is sure to savour.
Live coverage will be on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw. (Times: CET)