Two Englishman will compete for the £70,000 top prize as the Welsh Open final takes place on Sunday at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
The last leg of the Home Nations this season will be contested between a couple of players who have never won an event in the series since its inception four years ago.
Both Kyren Wilson and Shaun Murphy were forced to emerge from gruelling semi-final encounters on Saturday.
Wilson fought back from 4-2 down to see off a rattled Ronnie O’Sullivan in a decider, while Murphy repeated the trick after midnight when he retrieved a 5-4 deficit against Yan Bingtao to also prevail with a 6-5 margin.
It will be interesting to see what they have left to offer in the showdown for glory, with the Ray Reardon Trophy also at stake.
Murphy is bidding for a second ranking title of the season in what is his third final since last summer.
In fact, in the space of just under three years this is the former world champion’s ninth appearance at this late stage.
Before the China Championship in September, the “Magician” suffered a miserable run of defeats and lost six times on the trot in ranking title deciders.
Murphy’s 10-9 victory over Mark Williams in Guangzhou stopped the rot and the 37 year-old is in the hunt for a ninth career success this weekend.
Wilson, meanwhile, is in the final two for the first time this season as he gradually discovers his form in 2020.
Last week’s run to the last four of the World Grand Prix in Cheltenham signalled his intent and a 147 break at the outset of this week underlined that he was beginning to hit the ball well.
Wilson, 28, has three ranking trophies in his cabinet, with his last success occurring just over a year ago when he triumphed in the 2019 German Masters.
The two finalists have encountered each other on the Main Tour just five times in the past, and only once has the match been longer than the best of seven frames.
A total of 17 frames could be required for the Welsh Open final and their head-to-head record would suggest that it might be close.
Murphy boasts a 3-2 advantage, winning the duo’s last three battles, but there’s not much to separate them.
Whether Murphy’s late finish on the penultimate day will result in any lasting fatigue is the obvious immediate concern for his fans.
Most of the bookies have priced the fixture evenly, and it’s not too difficult to understand why.
Murphy and Wilson are both strong long potters, have good scoring prowess, can sometimes be frail tactically, but each possess winning mentalities.
A dozen of the previous 15 Home Nations finals have needed 15 or more frames to be completed, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this Welsh Open final go somewhere near the distance too.
Hi……. you may not realise that Shaun and Kyren learnt their snooker just a few miles apart in Northamptonshire, very near to where I lived for most of my life. Kyren’s Kettering home is only about 7 or 8 miles from Irthlingborough, the town where Shaun was brought up and used to play exhibition events before the Dr Marten’s League games in the late 1990s. They both played in the Rushden and District League when they were very young.
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