Ronnie O’Sullivan completed the Champion of Champions semi-finals line-up after outlasting two fellow legends on Thursday at the Ricoh Arena.
The defending champion rode his luck a little, fighting back from the brink of what would have been a shock defeat to Jimmy White in the first round.
White led 3-0 and had opportunities to get over the winning line on what might have been his last big TV match in a prestigious Main Tour event.
But O’Sullivan escaped with a 4-3 victory before proceeding to overcome John Higgins with a 6-3 scoreline in the quarter-finals.
The “Rocket” wasn’t anywhere near his best but is back into the business end of a tournament in which he has never failed to be represented in the final two.
O’Sullivan triumphed in the first two editions of the Coventry invitational and was twice a runner-up in consecutive campaigns before completing the hat-trick twelve months ago.
The only other year in that six-year spell in which the 43 year-old didn’t feature was in 2015 when he decided against accepting his invite.
Four years ago, Neil Robertson was the player who took advantage of O’Sullivan’s absence and it’s the Australian who the five-time world champion encounters in the last four on this occasion.
The pair last encountered each other at the same stage of the Shanghai Masters in September, a tournament that O’Sullivan ended up with success in.
O’Sullivan also beat Robertson in two lucrative finals at the end of last season, winning the jackpot in both the Players and Tour Championships at the expense of the Melbourne man.
Indeed, O’Sullivan loves events of these nature when the field is littered with elite competition and the rewards – the top prize on Sunday is £150,000 – are high.
O’Sullivan generally has the upper hand from previous important ties with Robertson and will undoubtedly be the favourite to progress to yet another final.
🗣️ “I’m going to try and get my shot clock down to about 10 seconds if I can!”@ronnieo147 isn’t planning on slowing down tomorrow when he faces @nr147. Just how good was the Rocket tonight?#ChampOfChamps pic.twitter.com/LV5S2T2r3m
— ChampionofChampions (@ChampOfChamps) November 7, 2019
In the other Champion of Champions semi-finals tie, world champion Judd Trump takes on Mark Allen in an equalling entertaining looking affair on paper.
Trump has been in terrific form throughout 2019, starting the year by claiming the Masters title for the first time and adding four ranking crowns to his cabinet.
There were perhaps a few question marks whether the world number one would be fit and ready for action this week after only just triumphing in the World Open in China on Sunday.
But the 30 year-old coasted through his opening two tests and will be highly fancied to prolong his run after an additional couple of days rest.
Trump has earned well over £1 million in tournament prize money during 2019 and the “Ace in the Pack” will be looking to play his cards right in an effort to land even more riches come Sunday evening.
Allen represents a formidable foe, though, and the Northern Irishman is bidding to reach the final for the second time.
Interestingly, the 2018 Masters champion boasts a superior head-to-head record against Trump and easily won their last clash 6-1 in Shanghai not long ago.
All four of the remaining participants have the credentials required to succeed in a tournament of this stature.
O’Sullivan and Trump may be the duo tipped to set up a potential mouthwatering showdown against one another on Sunday but Robertson and Allen can’t be ruled out, so it promises to be a fascinating climax to come.
Live coverage of the Champion of Champions semi-finals will be on ITV4 and Facebook.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)