Players Championship final

Players Championship Final: O’Sullivan vs Robertson

The Players Championship title decider will be contested between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Neil Robertson at the Guild Hall on Sunday.

Snooker gods are smiling ironically as the title decider in Preston features an Australian wannabe – or is it wallaby – and the genuine article from Down Under.

O’Sullivan has generated a number of headlines this week for his peculiar take on the Australian accent, undertaking the majority of his interviews in the foreign dialect.

For what real reason – boredom? – only the 43 year-old truly knows but it certainly hasn’t deterred his focus from the main business at hand.

Amid difficult playing conditions, O’Sullivan thrashed an out-of-sorts Mark Allen 6-0 in a surprisingly one-sided last four affair on Saturday.

In Melbourne man Robertson, the “Rocket” faces a fellow former world number one who is high in confidence after his recent success in the Welsh Open.

Robertson, who beat Judd Trump in a much closer semi-final fixture on Friday, boasts a supremely impressive record of having won at least one piece of silverware in each calendar year since 2006.

The 37 year-old, who also won the Riga Masters at the outset of this term, could be about to achieve something that he has never managed in a glittering career up until this point, though, and triumph in a hat-trick of ranking events in a single campaign.

Victory would see Robertson’s overall ranking event tally surpass Mark Selby, rising into sixth place on his own with 16 titles.

O’Sullivan, of course, could move within one of the all-time record of 36 held by Stephen Hendry if he could reign in this event for the second successive season.

The five-time world champion enjoys a far better head-to-head record against Robertson, winning two-thirds of their previous battles.

That said, Robertson has recorded a couple of meaningful triumphs over O’Sullivan, including in the finals of both the World Open and the Hong Kong Masters.

Robertson will not shy away from the challenge and the 2010 world champion certainly exudes the kind of confidence required to rattle O’Sullivan’s cage.

There is also national pride at stake and, while he may not admit it publicly, he surely must be a bit miffed at the audacity of O’Sullivan to dismissively adopt his native tongue.

Still, even though Trump easily accounted for O’Sullivan in the final of the Masters in January, it’s generally hard to envisage the world number three losing when he gets this far in an event.

Sunday’s final will be played over the best of 19 frames with £125,000 on offer as the top prize.

O’Sullivan, who could move ahead of Mark Williams with victory when the rankings are revised next week, is drawing ever nearer returning to the world number one position for what would be the first time in nine years.

Both O’Sullivan and Robertson are guaranteed to be among the lucrative eight-man field that will assemble for the inaugural Tour Championship that will conclude the Coral Cup series later this month.

Their focus can primarily be awarded to this eagerly anticipated showdown then that will provide, in a manner of speaking, an Australian champion whatever the outcome.

Live coverage is on ITV4 and Eurosport (Outside UK and Ire)

Click here for the full draw and schedule. (Times: CET)

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