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Ronnie O’Sullivan v John Higgins: Masters Snooker 2021 preview – Class of 92 icons collide

Jamie Shaw in The Masters

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Bingham maintains Masters title defence as Gilbert also seals Semi-Final spot

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High-scoring John Higgins sees off Ronnie O’Sullivan in Masters epic

O’Sullivan and Higgins go head-to-head (Photo by Nigel French/PA Images)

Two multiple Masters champions collide in a mouth-watering Quarter-Final on Friday as Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins renew their box office rivalry.

A ‘Class of 92’ reunion sees two of the sport’s all-time greats collide for the 66th time as they enter their fourth different decade at the top level.

The duo have appeared in no fewer than 17 Betfred Masters finals between them, three of which they have gone head-to-head, including a deciding frame epic 15 years ago.

O’Sullivan is the most decorated player in Masters history, having claimed the title seven times, while finishing runner-up on a further six occasions.

Having opted out of last year’s tournament at Alexandra Palace, ‘The Rocket’ returned to the sport’s most prestigious invitational as reigning World Champion and the number two seed.

He began by battling past 2011 champion Ding Junhui in a last-frame decider in Round One, having trailed 3-0 and 5-3.

The 37-time ranking event winner has appeared in two finals this season, falling narrowly short of glory in both the Northern Ireland Open and Scottish Open.

O’Sullivan has reached the final in four of his last six Masters appearances and has won his last three encounters against Higgins.

Higgins claimed Masters glory in 1999 and 2006, while also finishing runner-up to O’Sullivan in 1995 and 2005.

The 45-year-old has underlined his incredible longevity by being an ever-present in the sport’s most prestigious invitational event since his debut 26 years ago.

The world number seven opened up with a 6-5 victory over 2018 champion Mark Allen to reach only a second Quarter-Final of what has been a below-par season by his standards so far.

Higgins’ last televised title came at the 2018 Welsh Open – when he recorded his most recent victory over O’Sullivan with a 5-1 rout in the Quarter-Finals.

O’Sullivan has won 34 of their 65 previous meetings – with this being the sixth consecutive clash at the Last Eight stage of a tournament.

Their latest unmissable show-down gets underway from 7pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames.

World number 13 David Gilbert will await the winner in Saturday’s Semi-Finals.