Ronnie O’Sullivan bids to reach his 14th Masters final when he goes up against Shaun Murphy at Alexandra Palace on Saturday.
The Rocket is seeking a record-extending eighth triumph at snooker’s most prestigious invitational event, which would match his tally at the UK Championship.
But first, he must negotiate his 15th semi-final, where he is appearing following a pair of 6-3 victories over Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins.
O’Sullivan boasts a hugely impressive strike rate at this stage of the Masters with 13 victories from his previous 14 such matches.
Neil Robertson is the only player to inflict defeat on the world number one in the semi-finals at this venue, when he prevailed a dominant 6-1 winner in 2015.
Ironically, the Australian was then thrashed 10-2 in the final by Murphy, who will hope that serves as a positive omen as he seeks only his fifth victory over O’Sullivan.
Although, the Magician does have experience of beating him on the bigger stages, including the 2009 Premier League final and 2017 Champion of Champions showpiece.
O’Sullivan has won the last five meetings, though the most recent came in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Northern Ireland Open.
And Murphy appears to be on the path towards getting back to his best. Adopting his favoured attacking and aggressive style of play, he has defeated Zhang Anda and Jack Lisowski to reach his sixth Masters semi-final – and only his second since lifting the trophy nine years ago.
The world number six has won just two of his five previous matches in the last four of this event, and faces the toughest test of his credentials here, but will head into it feeling more confident than in recent times.
The winner of this match will play either Mark Allen or Ali Carter in Sunday’s Masters final.
Play gets under way at 1pm GMT on Saturday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at Alexandra Palace.
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