Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski will contest the 2019 China Open final after emerging from contrasting last four encounters on Saturday in Beijing.
Robertson had eased his way through to the latter stages of the event with a succession of one-sided scorelines.
But it was Lisowski, who beat Stuart Bingham by the narrowest of margins on the final black in the quarter-finals, who romped to a straightforward semi-final triumph.
The Englishman inflicted a 10-1 hiding on Scott Donaldson, compiling a brace of centuries and five further breaks above 50 to reach his second career ranking event final.
Robertson, by contrast, had to dig deep in order to see off Luca Brecel in an entertaining battle that almost went the distance.
After trading a succession of big breaks in a high quality opening session, the pair were still locked at 7-7 midway through the evening’s play.
It looked as though a deciding frame thriller could be on the cards but Robertson managed to pull away at just the right time, constructing timely runs of 73, 83, and a 66 clearance in the last to deny the Belgian’s challenge.
The success for the Melbourne man prolongs a remarkable streak that has seen the 37 year-old reach the final of the last four ranking events he has participated in.
Robertson began his run of hot form by capturing the Welsh Open in February before proceeding to lose both title deciders of the Players and Tour Championships to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The 2019 China Open final will mark a repeat of the first showdown for silverware this season, when Robertson overcame Lisowski to claim the Riga Masters crown way back in July of 2018.
While the “Thunder from Down Under” is bidding for a 16th career ranking trophy, Lisowski is now just one hurdle away from etching his name into the history books for the first time.
The Englishman has arguably been the most improved player over the last couple of years.
Always blessed with an incredible amount of natural talent, Lisowski took a long time to discover any kind of consistency and was in danger of dropping off the tour not so long ago.
Several runs to the business end of events later, the “Dude” has enjoyed a rapid rise into the top 16 of the world rankings and the 27 year-old is now an established member of the elite bracket.
💬 “I found it easy to score”
Crucible seed @JackLisowski booked his place in the final of the XingPai China Open with a 10-1 victory over Scott Donaldson.
He’ll battle for a maiden ranking title and £225,000 tomorrow #ChinaOpen pic.twitter.com/vUl1puhy1O
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 6, 2019
In the best of 21 frames final, Lisowski will still undoubtedly be the second favourite, though.
Robertson himself has undergone a remarkable transformation in a similar time span.
The 2010 world champion briefly dropped out of the top 16 in the rankings during the last campaign after a dreadful period by his high standards.
Since then, though, Robertson has bagged a hat-trick of ranking titles and is firmly back where he belongs in the highest echelons of the sport.
Both players will be highly fancied to go far at the Crucible later this month when the much anticipated World Championship gets under way in Sheffield.
However, there’s the small matter of a mammoth £225,000 winner’s cheque to first challenge for in the Chinese capital city on Sunday.
For Lisowski to announce himself as a genuine threat in major tournaments, he’ll first have to oust a competitor who, other than O’Sullivan, has probably been the best player of the season.
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