Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to progress to his sixth consecutive Champion of Champions final at the expense of Neil Robertson in Coventry on Friday.
O’Sullivan boasts a remarkable record in this elite invitational, having reached the final in each of his five previous appearances since 2013, winning the title on three occasions.
The world number three recovered from an early scare in his Group One opener against his close friend Jimmy White from 3-0 down to prevail 4-3, before turning on the style to defeat his great rival John Higgins 6-3 later in the evening.
O’Sullivan, who edged out Kyren Wilson 10-9 to claim this title 12 months ago, has two ranking titles and two invitationals to his name in 2019, including the Shanghai Masters in his first competitive campaign of the season.
The Rocket boasts a dominant recent record over Robertson, having won each of their last five meetings and 17 of their 24 in total.
The first of their three encounters this year saw O’Sullivan close out the Coral Players Championship title with his 1,000th career century break before going on to defeat the Aussie again in the Tour Championship final just a fortnight later.
Robertson will be determined to stop the rot and gain a degree of revenge here, with his last ranking event success over O’Sullivan coming in the 2017 World Grand Prix.
The China Open champion came through Group Four on Monday, whitewashing Martin Gould 4-0 before holding his nerve in a last-frame decider to overcome Shaun Murphy 6-5.
Champion of Champions in 2015, Robertson is appearing in the Semi-Finals of this prestigious event for the fourth time and is looking to kick-start an otherwise indifferent season which has seen him miss two ranking events and suffer early exits in three.
The opening Semi-Final gets underway from 7pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames, with either Judd Trump or Mark Allen awaiting the winner in Sunday’s final.
O’Sullivan: “It’s a good table and a good venue, I just wish every tournament could be like this.
“I want to get my shot clock down to about ten seconds and have a bit of fun.”
Robertson: “In some ways it was a little bit of a blessing in disguise missing out on the World Open because the last couple of weeks I’ve been practicing so hard.
“I’ve learned how to restructure my practice and get a good sense of rhythm.”