The Shanghai Masters final takes place on Sunday with Ronnie O’Sullivan looking to continue his recent dominance in the Chinese event.
Fellow Englishman Shaun Murphy stands in the way of the “Rocket” capturing the title for a third straight year.
Murphy easily overcame Mark Allen in Friday’s opening semi-final fixture before O’Sullivan came from behind to outlast Neil Robertson on Saturday.
O’Sullivan, playing in his first tournament of the 2019/20 season, hasn’t really been at his best yet but has upped his game at important moments to remain in contention.
The 43 year-old survived a major scare in the quarter-finals when he fought back superbly from 5-1 behind to deny Kyren Wilson in a decider – a feat that probably helped to enhance his air of invisibility in Shanghai.
Murphy, meanwhile, has maintained his excellent start to this campaign as he continues his resurgence following a dreadful last term that saw him almost drop out of the elite top 16 in the world rankings.
The “Magician” reached the final of the International Championship last month, losing to Judd Trump, and has enjoyed another strong week here.
Whether or not the former world champion will be able to compete with O’Sullivan in this Shanghai Masters final is the key question.
Murphy’s recent record in finals is dismal, losing the last six ranking event title deciders he’s contested.
Of course, the Shanghai Masters isn’t a ranking event and, funnily enough, the last invitational tournament that Murphy triumphed in was at the 2017 Champion of Champions when he pipped O’Sullivan to the trophy in a 10-8 thriller.
That represents one of a distinctly small number of occasions when Murphy has enjoyed a major success over the five-time world champion.
Indeed, later that season O’Sullivan got his revenge with victories in the finals of both the UK and Players Championships, and overall enjoys a far superior head-to-head advantage over Murphy.
A lot, as usual, will depend on how the latter can begin the best of 21 frames encounter.
If the 37 year-old, who successfully tinkered with his technique in the summer in an effort to regain his form, falls behind in the first session then there’s likely to be only one outcome.
O’Sullivan has now won 13 straight games in Shanghai and clearly enjoys playing in front of the fans there.
This event is one of the few in China that regularly attracts decent numbers to the venues and the atmosphere has been electric any time O’Sullivan has performed.
Support is certain to be one-sided for the Shanghai Masters final then, another issue that Murphy might have to deal with.
Most things point to an O’Sullivan triumph but it isn’t always that straightforward, especially when there’s a cheque worth £200,000 on the line.