Ronnie O’Sullivan won through to his thirteenth Masters final after a 6-3 defeat of Ding Junhui at Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
O’Sullivan, a record seven-time Masters Champion, moved a step closer to regaining the Paul Hunter Trophy with a high quality win over China’s number one.
It looked to be plain sailing for ‘The Rocket’ as he raced into a 4-0 lead, but only for Ding to reel off three on the spin to close the gap.
O’Sullivan, though, secured the next two frames to get over the line and setup a meeting with either Judd Trump or Neil Robertson in Sunday’s final.
“I played the right shots but it wasn’t scary stuff,” O’Sullivan told BBC Sport.
“I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I lost because I love that guy so much and I’d have been really happy to see him competing in a final.
“Ding is one of the best guys, he’s got a heart of gold, his family have looked after me whenever I’ve gone to China and I see him like a brother.
“You get to a point in life where you don’t care and I’ve trained myself in life not to care about any consequences and when you’re in that place, you take it for what it is.
“It’s just a game, you enjoy it and I have nothing to lose because there is no fear.
“I just go out there and do my best.”
O’Sullivan took the opening frame with a break of 58, and after Ding lost position on 42, the home favourite swept in a break of 75 to double his lead.
The one-way traffic continued as O’Sullivan made a 52 to seal frame three, before adding a 56 in the fourth to extend his advantage.
A marathon fifth frame went the way of Ding after the interval as he got off the mark, before producing a superb 107 break to reduce the deficit to 4-2.
An incredible sequence of events then saw Ding threaten a maximum break, potting a thin black with the rest before fluking the final yellow but missing the green on 122.
O’Sullivan, however, stopped the rot by edging frame eight before putting the gloss on victory with a break of 93.
Ding admitted his frustration at the missed maximum chance, revealing: “It was not easy to play the green but I was lucky to get on it. I really wanted to make a 147 at the Masters.
“At the end he said he [O’Sullivan] loves me and it is great to play Ronnie because I can see how good my game is. He beat me on the safety play today.”