Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to avoid a second straight defeat against Fan Zhengyi when they collide in the Champion of Champions semi-finals.
The second of the last-four showdowns takes centre at the Bolton Whites Hotel on Saturday, with both players aiming to join Judd Trump in Sunday’s showpiece.
A 750-1 outsider and then ranked 80 in the world, Fan caused one of the biggest shocks in snooker history in February when he denied O’Sullivan 10-9 to land his maiden ranking title at the European Masters.
Although, the Rocket provides an entirely different proposition at the Champion of Champions, where he is set to appear in his seventh semi-final in nine appearances.
The three-time champion dropped just three frames on Wednesday while hitting a treble of tons as he put debutants Robert Milkins (4-2) and Zhao Xintong (6-1) to the sword to seal Group Two glory.
The most successful player in the prestigious invitational event’s history, O’Sullivan is now just two wins away from claiming a record-extending fourth title.
However, a resurgent Fan will certainly not roll over as he bids for a repeat of his European Masters triumph.
The 21-year-old arrived in Bolton having won just two of the eight matches he had played since lifting the trophy in Milton Keynes.
But the Chinese cueist has enjoyed a timely upturn in fortunes this week by claiming as many victories as he managed in the previous eight months.
Indeed, the world number 37 came through deciding frames to deny two-time champion Neil Robertson, as well as recent British Open winner Ryan Day and advance to the semi-finals as the Group Three victor.
Play gets underway at 7pm GMT on Saturday with the match contested over the best of 11 frames at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
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