Neil Robertson launches the defence of his Masters title with a show-down against former champion Shaun Murphy at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
A repeat of two previous Masters finals sees the two Triple Crown winners collide in a mouth-watering curtain-raiser to this year’s tournament.
Robertson defeated Murphy 10-6 in the final to first lift this prestigious trophy in 2012, before doubling his tally a decade on with victory over Barry Hawkins in last year’s final.
Murphy, meanwhile, avenged that defeat with a crushing 10-2 success in 2015 to become the tenth player in snooker history to complete a career Triple Crown.
Robertson is bidding to join an elite group of only four players to have successfully retained this title and become the seventh player since 1975 to secure three Masters crowns.
The Australian star picked up the Players Championship and Tour Championship titles last season but is yet to open his account this term, losing out in the Semi-Finals of the Northern Ireland Open, Scottish Open and English Open.
He made his Masters debut as a wildcard back in 2004 and has reached four finals, as well as suffering four First Round exits.
Murphy has been an ever-present in this event since 2006, underlining his trademark consistency over three decades, and ‘The Magician’ is looking to atone for last year’s First Round exit at the hands of Barry Hawkins.
The 2005 World Champion last claimed televised silverware at the 2020 Welsh Open and was runner-up to Mark Selby in the 2021 World Championship.
His sole Quarter-Final appearance this season to date came at last month’s UK Championship – where he defeated David Gilbert and Judd Trump along the way.
Robertson and Murphy have met on 28 previous occasions, with the Aussie claiming 18 victories, though this will be their first encounter since 2020.
The match gets under way from 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames, with either 2018 runner-up Kyren Wilson or 2020 champion Stuart Bingham awaiting the winner in the Quarter-Finals.
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