Ronnie O’Sullivan will play Judd Trump in the Champion of Champions final after a 6-2 victory over Fan Zhengyi on Saturday.
The Rocket set up a rematch with the reigning champion six months after prevailing 18-13 in their Crucible showpiece to seal his magnificent seventh World crown.
O’Sullivan hit a top break of 117 while producing a further six contributions over 50 as he avenged his European Masters final defeat by Fan eight months earlier at the Bolton Whites Hotel.
Nevertheless, the three-time Champion of Champions winner insists he must improve in order to land a fourth title.
“It’s great for everyone who loves their snooker,” he told ITV. “Hopefully, I can play a little bit better than I have done.
“To give Judd a game, I will have to, because he looks like he’s playing the best snooker this week.
“He looks to be in good form. I will have to raise my game to have a chance of winning.”
World number 37 Fan had enjoyed a timely upturn in fortune this week, having arrived in Bolton with just two wins from the eight matches he had played since his fairy-tale European Masters triumph as a 750-1 outsider.
The 21-year-old had the first opportunity of the semi-final, but he broke down after missing a straightforward pink to the corner at 35-0 up. Aided by a fluked opening black, O’Sullivan ruthlessly punished with breaks of 89 and 117 to quickly establish a 2-0 lead.
Although the Rocket was pegged back to 2-1, runs of 86, 55 and 62 moved him to the brink of a sixth final in nine appearances at the prestigious invitational event.
Fan, who prevailed in deciding frames against Neil Robertson and Ryan Day to win Group Three earlier in the week, kept his faint hopes alive with a magnificent break of 123.
However, it proved a false dawn for the Chinese cueist as O’Sullivan was not to be denied; contributions of 53 and 75 sealing the deal in the next frame.
18+ | T&Cs Apply | Geo Restrictions may apply | Be Gamble Aware