Tour Championship final

Tour Championship Final: Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Neil Robertson

Neil Robertson’s 10-6 victory over Mark Allen on Friday has set up an intriguing Tour Championship title decider against Ronnie O’Sullivan in Llandudno.

The Australian produced six-frame and four-frame bursts to overcome Allen in the second semi-final encounter of the last Coral Cup event this season.

O’Sullivan had already booked his place in the title decider after an enthralling 10-9 defeat of Judd Trump on Thursday – a clash that dramatically concluded on the final black.

It means the final will be a repeat of Robertson and O’Sullivan’s recent Players Championship showdown for glory.

On that occasion, the latter steamrollered his opponent with an iconic display – O’Sullivan’s success sealed with an historic 1,000th career century break.

In what has been a campaign full of them for the “Rocket”, even more records are on the line this weekend in Wales.

Victory for the 43 year-old would represent a 36th ranking title in his career, matching the 14-year record held by seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry.

O’Sullivan would additionally return to the top spot in the world rankings for the first time since 2010, ending rival Mark Selby’s stranglehold at the helm of the sport.

If that outcome were to materialise, the Englishman would become the oldest world number one since Ray Reardon held the coveted spot as a 51 year-old in 1983.

When O’Sullivan reaches this latterly stage of events, it is often difficult to envisage him being on the losing side.

Recent history would support that theory, with the five-time world champion winning seven out of his eight ranking event finals since October in 2017.

Only Trump has managed to succeed where others have fallen short, beating O’Sullivan in both the finals of the Northern Ireland Open and the invitational Masters this term.

But with the 29 year-old accounted for, it is almost expected that O’Sullivan will go on and etch his name onto a new piece of silverware.

Robertson, of course, will have other ideas.

It’s easy to wax lyrical about O’Sullivan and all of his achievements, but it has actually been a stellar season from Robertson too.

After briefly dropping outside the world’s top 16 last season, the 37 year-old has represented a rejuvenated force during this campaign – capturing a brace of titles and featuring in two other ranking finals.

One of those defeats was obviously a chastening one against O’Sullivan but Robertson is experienced enough to know that it will be difficult to produce that kind of standard again.

The increased format for this final – the first title decider in more than two decades, other than the World Championship, that will require more than two sessions to complete – will add an extra dimension to proceedings.

O’Sullivan and Robertson have actually met a couple of times over the best of 25 frames, with both contests resulting in 13-10 victories for the former at the Crucible.

Indeed, O’Sullivan boasts a far superior head-to-head record in general, winning more than two-thirds of their prior encounters.

Robertson will be hoping to recall upon his standout triumphs in the 2017 Hong Kong Masters final and a 2015 Masters semi-final, albeit both of those matches took place over only eleven frames.

It is a pretty obvious thing to say, but it feels imperative that the Melbourne man gets off to a strong start if he is to harbour serious ambitions of upsetting the odds.

Either way, though, it promises to be a fascinating climax to what has been a wonderful addition to snooker’s calendar.

Crowd numbers in Wales have been high, understandably so considering the quality of player on show and the elevated standard that has been produced.

Let’s hope they are treated to a gripping finale.

Live coverage is on ITV4.

Click here to view the draw (times: CET)

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