Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to secure a place in an eighth UK Championship final by dispatching Tom Ford in York on Saturday.
No player has managed to successfully defend this title since Stephen Hendry back in 1996, but O’Sullivan remains now odds-on to break that trend and become the outright most successful player in the history of the competition.
In the tournament which launched his career when he broke through to win the title as a fresh-faced 17-year-old back in 1993, ‘The Rocket’ is now looking to create a further slice of history and underline his incredible longevity at the top of the sport.
The 43-year-old, winner of the Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions this season, has cantered into the latter stages this week, recovering from his Second Round scare against Ken Doherty to sweep aside Zhou Yuelong 6-0, Jack Lisowski 6-1 and Martin O’Donnell 6-1.
He has maintained his record of having reached at least the Semi-Final stage of each event he has competed in so far this season, while also closing in on the magical 1,000 career centuries mark by taking his tally to 984.
Ford, meanwhile, has won through to his first Triple Crown Semi-Final after prevailing from last-frame deciders in three of his five matches along the way.
The Leicester ace, runner-up in the 2016 Paul Hunter Classic, had failed to progress beyond the Last 32 stage of a ranking tournament since April prior to this week and now has his sights set on the ultimate upset.
The world number 36 overcame in-form Joe Perry 6-2 in Friday’s Quarter-Finals and is now gearing up for undoubtedly the biggest match of his 17-year career to date.
O’Sullivan has won all four of their previous meetings since 2007, including a 4-0 whitewash in the Last 32 of last month’s Northern Ireland Open en route to finishing runner-up.
Their latest encounter gets underway from 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames.
Either reigning Masters Champion Mark Allen or 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham will await the winner in Sunday’s final.
O’Sullivan: “I’ve felt good every match and I really am enjoying playing. Sometimes if you’re not potting you have to be patient.
“Semi-finals are the worst matches as you don’t want to fall at that hurdle. It’s a big match, and I’m just pleased to be there.”
Ford: “I wasn’t really thinking about the payday, if I’m honest. I just wanted to get into the Semi-Final.
“If I take my chances [against O’Sullivan] – I’ve got every chance, I’ve just got to make sure I do take them.”