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Welsh Open Final: Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Jordan Brown

The duo will battle for the right to lift the Ray Reardon Trophy aloft.

Sunday’s Welsh Open final will be contested between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jordan Brown at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport.

Both players dominated their respective semi-final encounters to set up a showdown for the £70,000 top prize.

O’Sullivan’s 6-1 victory over Mark Williams didn’t necessarily come as a huge surprise, particularly given his superior career record overall against the Welshman.

However, Brown’s earlier triumph over Stephen Maguire on Saturday, which also ended 6-1, constituted a major upset indeed.

The 33 year-old produced an outstanding performance that defied his inexperience in what was a maiden ranking semi-final appearance.

Brown displayed very new nerves and took advantage of yet another occasion where Maguire failed to turn up when labelled with the favourite’s tag.

That’s to take nothing away from Brown, though, who compiled a brace of centuries en route to becoming only the sixth player from Northern Ireland to reach a ranking event final.

An additional reward for his dominant display is a ticket to next week’s lucrative Players Championship, where only the top 16 on the one-year rankings list qualify.

The Antrim Ferrari will need to be firing on those kinds of cylinders again if he is to have a chance of completing one of the most unlikeliest tournament victories in the history of the sport.

At number 81 in the world, Brown is ranked 78 places below his esteemed Welsh Open final opponent.

O’Sullivan, by contrast, is primed to feature at this latterly stage for the 56th time in his illustrious career.

Success would extend his own record for most ranking event titles to 38, and it would mark his first since claiming a sixth world crown six months ago in Sheffield.

There had been question marks over the 45 year-old’s form since that achievement at the Crucible last August, but those worries have clearly been premature.

O’Sullivan has represented a focused animal during this week’s Home Nations tournament, with renewed drive and more prolific scoring built on weeks of harder practice over the winter months.

The Rocket was fortunate to receive a bye from his scheduled quarter-final bout with Ali Carter, but even with that he has only lost a measly two frames across the five matches he has played.

For Brown to have any realistic chance of causing a seismic shock, he will have to get on the scoreboard early and hope that he can put a dent into O’Sullivan’s temperament.

Even then, the former European Amateur Championship finalist will probably be required to elevate his game to a standard he’s never produced on the match table before.

There are weeks when O’Sullivan coasts along – like in the Northern Ireland and Scottish Opens earlier this season – on reputation more than anything else.

But then there are other weeks, like this one, when his desire is honed in on the task at hand and no outcome other than glory is liable.

There is no doubting the fact that O’Sullivan will have benefited from the unexpected losses to Judd Trump and Mark Selby this week – the latter having been denied in a gripping last-eight tie to Brown on Friday.

His eyes would have lit up when his two biggest rivals were taken out of the equation and a record-equalling fifth Welsh Open title now seems on the cards.

Brown has mentioned that O’Sullivan’s dismissive comments last year about lower-ranked players is fuelling his motivation to perform.

Victory on Sunday would certainly go a long way to proving the former world number one wrong on that front.

Whether he will be able to put up that kind of challenge or not on what will be the biggest encounter of is life is the question we’re eager to find out.

Welsh Open Final

Jordan Brown vs Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Live coverage of the 2021 Welsh Open final is available on BBC Wales, the BBC Red Button, Eurosport, Quest, and by various other options around the world.

Click here to view the full Welsh Open draw (Scheduled times in CET)

Featured photo credit: WST

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