The Shanghai Masters semi-finals take place on Friday and Saturday, and the lineup couldn’t be much stronger.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Luca Brecel, and Neil Robertson will continue their bids to claim the £210,000 top prize on Sunday.
It promises to be a fascinating conclusion to the invitational tournament, with the length of matches now increasing to multi-session affairs.
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Mark Selby
Friday, 7am and 12:30pm BST
Is there a bigger rivalry in modern-day snooker than the one between Englishmen Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby?
The best of frenemies, O’Sullivan and Selby have clashed in countless big occasions over the years, including matches in several major finals.
Their last clash over a considerable distance was in the final of the 2020 Scottish Open, when Selby emerged as a 9-3 winner.
Prior to that, O’Sullivan had overcome his younger countryman in an epic World Championship semi-final showdown that went the distance.
The Rocket boasts a superior head-to-head record overall but has frequently succumbed to Selby’s mastery of brinkmanship.
Any time these two play against each other, there is the prospect of some fireworks materialising.
In the quarter-finals, Selby thrashed Judd Trump 6-1 so will be confident of translating his form into a final appearance.
O’Sullivan, though, produced a barely believable fight back to floor John Higgins in a decider from 5-2 behind, having been the second best for most of the tie.
As a three-time defending champion, the world number one knows how to get the job done in Shanghai.
Neil Robertson vs Luca Brecel
Saturday, 7am and 12:30pm BST
There is just as much quality on display in the second Shanghai Masters semi-finals bout that takes place on Saturday over 19 frames.
Like he did against Mark Williams in the previous round, world champion Luca Brecel reversed a 2-0 deficit and ultimately beat Robert Milkins 6-3 in the last eight.
It was more straightforward for Neil Robertson, who ended home interest in this year’s edition of the event by ousting Fan Zhengyi 6-1.
Considering the array of prestigious silverware in his collection of victories, it’s somewhat surprising to note that Robertson has never even reached a final in Shanghai.
The Australian will have a chance to change that here, but he comes up against a player in the form of his life.
There are no ranking points available this week, but Brecel is chasing down O’Sullivan in the world ranking list and looks set to become world number one at some point this term.
Interestingly, Robertson and Brecel have only faced each other four times on the main tour, and the former has won every time.
Their most recent clash was a behind-closed-doors Championship League fixture.
Before that, however, Robertson edged their only other two-session battle – recording a 10-7 scoreline at the same stage of the 2019 China Open.
Of course, Brecel is a completely different level of player compared to back then, and like the other semi-final, this one is tough to call on paper.
Shanghai Masters Draw
Last 24 (bo11)
Ali Carter (11) 6-2 Dong Zihao
John Higgins (10) 6-0 Deng Haohui
Hossein Vafaei (16) 6-1 Gong Chenzhi
Jack Lisowski (13) 6-5 Zhou Yuelong
Gary Wilson (14) 2-6 Fan Zhengyi
Ding Junhui (15) 6-2 Si Jiahui
Robert Milkins (12) 6-1 Bai Yulu
Mark Williams (9) 6-1 Pang Junxu
Last 16 (bo11)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-3 Ali Carter (11)
Kyren Wilson (8) 3-6 John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (5) 6-5 Hossein Vafaei (16)
Judd Trump (4) 6-5 Jack Lisowski (13)
Mark Allen (3) 3-6 Fan Zhengyi
Neil Robertson (6) 6-5 Ding Junhui (15)
Shaun Murphy (7) 5-6 Robert Milkins (12)
Luca Brecel (2) 6-4 Mark Williams (9)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 6-5 John Higgins (10)
Mark Selby (5) 6-1 Judd Trump (4)
Fan Zhengyi 1-6 Neil Robertson (6)
Robert Milkins (12) 3-6 Luca Brecel (2)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 10-7 Mark Selby (5)
Neil Robertson (6) 7-10 Luca Brecel (2)
Ronnie O’Sullivan (1) 11-9 Luca Brecel (2)
Featured photo credit: WST