John Higgins and Luca Brecel will contest the final of the 2021 Scottish Open on Sunday at the Venue Cymru in Llandudno.
The pair comfortably emerged from their respective semi-final encounters with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Anthony McGill with one-sided 6-1 victories on Saturday.
Higgins compiled a century and added three more frame-winning contributions in beating the Rocket for the fifth time in sixth meetings this calendar year, while Brecel maintained his 100% record against McGill in similarly comfortable fashion.
It sets up an intriguing Scottish Open final in which both contenders will be vying for redemption after near misses during the 2021/22 campaign already.
In the previous two Home Nations title deciders in Northern Ireland and England this term, Higgins has suffered tough 9-8 defeats, while the Wizard of Wishaw was also a runner-up in the Champion of Champions last month as well.
Brecel, meanwhile, will look to immediately put behind him the disappointment of being denied glory in last weekend’s UK Championship final at the Barbican Centre in York.
The Belgian Bullet is brimming full of confidence at the moment and is again one victory away from adding to his sole ranking event success from four years ago at the China Championship.
Higgins, of course, is one of the most prolific champions in the sport’s history and will look to finally add a 32nd ranking title to his impressive tally.
That this Scottish Open final is being played in Wales will probably be the 46 year-old’s only gripe, having lost an opportunity to land the Stephen Hendry Trophy in front of his home fans.
But that’s unlikely to affect his focus too much as he attempts to go one better than his runner-up spot to Marco Fu in the competition five years ago.
For Brecel, it’s a completely different challenge to the one he encountered last Sunday – facing an all-time legend of the game rather than a player from the new breed of up-and-coming talents.
The head-to-head does not read favourably for the 26 year-old, whose only victory over Higgins in five previous clashes was at the Championship League in 2018 behind closed doors.
Brecel has proven over the course of the last couple of weeks that he belongs back in the higher echelons of the game, but there’s no doubting the fact that he’ll still be the underdog on this occasion.
A welcome return to the top 16 would come along with the £70,000 top prize, but Brecel will likely have to produce somewhere near his best in order to deny his illustrious opponent.
Perhaps his biggest challenge will be to keep the scores close because Higgins has shown a fragility in finals this season when near the winning line – squandering 8-6 advantages in both Belfast and Milton Keynes.
There’s a general sense that Higgins won’t let this opportunity slip by, although these Home Nations finals do have a habit of conjuring up late-night drama irrespective of any pre-match predictions.
Indeed, 15 out of the previous 22 Home Nations finals have needed at least 16 out of the allotted 17 frames to be completed, and there’ll be many neutrals hoping for another tense conclusion here.
Live coverage of the 2021 Scottish Open final is on Eurosport, Quest, and Matchroom.Live (selected territories).
Featured photo credit: WST