The 2022 Masters final will be contested between Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins after a dramatic day of semi-final action on Saturday in London.
For the first time since 2002, both encounters in the last four ended 6-5 with Robertson first fighting back to edge Mark Williams and Hawkins later repeating the trick against Judd Trump.
While Hawkins left Trump pointless in the last two frames to prevail in a see-saw affair, Robertson’s victory against fellow former champion Williams was even more thrilling.
The Melbourne man trailed 5-3 but stormed back into contention with breaks of 95 and 119, before he subsequently pinched an enthralling final frame on the black having at one stage required a couple of snookers.
Robertson is bidding for a second Masters title since capturing the first staged at the Alexandra Palace ten years ago, and his appearance in the 2022 showdown will represent his fourth in a final overall.
Hawkins, meanwhile, will attempt to go one better than his runner-up spot in 2016 as the 42 year-old moves a step closer to the maiden Triple Crown piece of silverware that has so far eluded him during his career.
Much like how he has been in all three of his matches to reach this point, Hawkins will begin the 2022 Masters final as the obvious underdog, but with triumphs over World Championship finalists Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy to go along with his upset of Trump, the Englishman’s confidence levels must be soaring at present.
One issue with his game so far this week is that his scoring has not been especially strong, and that area could prove pivotal if he’s to go all the way at the Ally Pally.
Robertson, by contrast, has compiled four century breaks and the reigning English Open champion’s pot success rate in general has been very high throughout most of the tournament.
Arguably the Hawk’s most important challenge will be to prevent his esteemed Australian opponent from getting on a roll in which he reels off a succession of quick frames with sizable visits.
The head-to-head reads kindly for the Thunder from Down Under, with 15 wins from their 26 prior fixtures in all competitions and ten from 14 when their Championship League outings are taken away.
Indeed, Hawkins has lost the last few times they’ve faced each other in matches of considerable length, including bouts in the 2020 World Championship and the 2019 Masters.
Most of the stats would indicate that a sixth Triple Crown glory for Robertson is likely, but there have been so many twists and turns in the latter half of this week that anything remains possible.
The boisterous crowd, as it has done for the full week in the English capital city, will also play its part in generating a spine-tingling atmosphere.
Live coverage of the 2022 Masters final is on the BBC and Eurosport across Ireland and Britain. (session start times: 1pm and 7pm)
Featured photo credit: WST