Seven-time champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Judd Trump in the Masters final on Sunday at the Alexandra Palace in London.
The pair of Englishmen emerged from topsy-turvy semi-final matches on Saturday with respective victories over Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson.
In an enthralling encounter that had the packed 2,000-strong crowd on the edge of their seats, O’Sullivan held off a late and gallant charge from Ding to book an incredible 13th Masters final in 25 appearances at the prestigious invitational.
Trump, meanwhile, prevailed with a 6-4 scoreline against Australia’s Robertson in a clash that developed into a battle of nerves.
The 29 year-old will have to hold himself together better in today’s showdown for glory if he’s to have any chance of denying O’Sullivan an unprecedented eighth title in a single Triple Crown event.
Good news for Trump supporters is that he tends to raise his level of performance when he faces the five-time world champion.
Trump represents one of only a few players on the Main Tour who can live with and, indeed, overcome O’Sullivan on the bigger occasions.
In fact, this fixture between the duo will represent their ninth in a professional final.
Interestingly, Trump boasts the advantage from this head-to-head with five victories to O’Sullivan’s three.
Their last final occurred only a couple of months ago in the Northern Ireland Open when Trump prevailed 9-7 to inflict one of only two defeats O’Sullivan has succumbed to during this campaign.
Yet, a title decider of this magnitude with £200,000 and the coveted Paul Hunter Trophy on the line is an entirely different prospect for the former to consider.
While Trump is looking for a long overdue second major crown after his UK Championship success from more than seven years ago, victory for O’Sullivan would bring his overall Triple Crown tally to a staggering 20.
The 43 year-old is like a fine wine as he seemingly defies the age barrier by becoming an even more complete player.
Since the start of last season and including this Masters final, O’Sullivan has competed in 21 tournaments, of which he has contested at least the final a dozen times.
Aside from that, competing in the Masters final has almost become second nature to O’Sullivan, who has only failed to reach the title decider five times in his last 15 trips to the English capital.
O’Sullivan will unquestionably be the favourite and will have a boisterous crowd on his side but Trump will have fans of his own and he’s unlikely to shy away from the challenge that awaits.
In fact, the majority of their finals have been close affairs and there’s every reason to think that this tie could follow a similar path.
A lot will depend on how Trump can handle competing in his maiden Masters final and it’s going to be important for him to get off to a decent opening.
That said, Trump’s ability to reel off frames in rapid fashion can impose fear on any opponent, underlined in the 2014 UK Championship final when he stormed back from 9-4 down to force a decider, only for O’Sullivan to scramble home in a dramatic finish.
Should Trump prevail, it has the potential to bring a career that has been excellent up until this point to an entirely different level.
The confidence that it would generate could initiate a more sustained period of success for the nine-time ranking event winner.
But O’Sullivan isn’t the sternest test of them all for no reason and Trump will likely have to produce something extraordinary to etch his name on the trophy for the first time.
Live coverage of the Masters final will be on Eurosport and the BBC.
Click here to view the full Masters Draw (Times: CET)
Can you imagine what it’s like reaching your first Masters final?
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) January 19, 2019