Ronnie O’Sullivan aims to secure an unprecedented eighth Masters title by denying rival Judd Trump in his first final at Alexandra Palace on Sunday.
A dream climax to snooker’s most prestigious invitational will see arguably the sport’s two biggest box office attractions collide for the right to lift the iconic Paul Hunter Trophy and scoop the £200,000 winner’s cheque.
Home favourite O’Sullivan, who eclipsed Stephen Hendry’s tally of Masters titles with his most recent triumph in 2017, has made this tournament his own in recent years and finds himself in a fourth final in his last six visits to Ally Pally.
The reigning UK Champion began his quest to scoop a seasonal Triple Crown with a 6-2 victory over Stuart Bingham in Round One before pulling clear from three-all to defeat Ryan Day 6-3 in the Quarter-Finals.
He then raced into a 4-0 lead against his close friend Ding Junhui before withstanding a fightback to 4-3 in closing out the next two frames for a place in the final.
O’Sullivan’s incredible longevity since turning professional in 1992 sees him continue to topple numerous records, and with 989 career centuries to his name, the magic 1,000 is now very much in his sights in the coming months.
Trump, who made his debut in the Wildcard Round a decade ago, is making his ninth appearance at The Masters and has bettered his run to three previous Semi-Finals.
The Bristol left-hander opened up with a crushing 6-2 victory over rival Kyren Wilson before brushing aside three-time champion Mark Selby by the same scoreline and defying two centuries from Neil Robertson in a superb 6-4 Semi-Final triumph.
Trump’s scalp of O’Sullivan in the Northern Ireland Open final ended his rival’s run of six consecutive televised final wins, and while the 43-year-old has lifted this trophy on seven occasions, he has also finished runner-up a further five times.
The attack-minded duo have met 20 times in previous competition dating back to 2008, with O’Sullivan holding the narrow upper-hand with eleven wins to Trump’s nine.
Their only previous Masters meeting saw Trump prevail 6-2 in the 2012 Quarter-Finals, while ‘The Rocket’ went on to claim a 13-11 triumph in the Semi-Finals of the 2013 World Championship and close-run wins in the final of both the 2014 Champion of Champions and UK Championship.
Their latest encounter gets underway from 1pm GMT for a total of eight frames and will resume from 7pm to a climax over the best of 19 frames.
O’Sullivan: “I have done well to win two or three, let’s not get greedy. I don’t buy into numbers or achievements, I just enjoy what I have and grateful for what I have.
“I understand that the western philosophy is about getting more and more is never enough but I don’t adopt that. Greed can come out in many ways but the less greedy you are, the more satisfied you become.
“To win tournaments you have to be quite aggressive and make things happen. You don’t get many defensive players getting to finals these days and even the ones you think are defensive are actually attacking in their own ways.
“It’s just a game, you enjoy it and I have nothing to lose because there is no fear.”
Trump: “I have to go out and enjoy it. I see it as a challenge when other players might get scared of playing him. My record against him speaks for itself and I rise to the occasion.
“I’m going to have to raise my game by 50% to get close to Ronnie the way he has been playing, but I am in with a fighting chance.
“I don’t have anything to lose. The way Ronnie has been playing, I hope I can take the game to him and go for my shots with confidence.
“He will have massive crowd support so I am going to have to deal with that as well.”
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Judd Trump head-to-head
|Ronnie O’Sullivan||Judd Trump|
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