Luca Brecel and Neil Robertson face off for a place in a first Shanghai Masters final at the Grand Stage on Saturday.
Reigning World Champion Brecel is bidding to record a first win over 2010 World Champion Robertson at the fourth time of asking, with none other than Ronnie O’Sullivan waiting in the wings in Sunday’s show-piece.
Brecel, competing in only his second tournament since his fairy-tale triumph at The Crucible in May, has broken new ground again by reaching the penultimate round in Shanghai for the first time.
The Belgian Bullet, now ranked world number two, was beaten by eventual champion Barry Hawkins in the Last 16 of the recent European Masters, but has bounced back superbly upon his return to China.
The 28-year-old, whose breakthrough first ranking title came at the China Championship in 2017, opened up with a 6-4 win over Mark Williams, before overcoming Robert Milkins 6-3 in the Quarter-Finals.
Brecel is vying to claim a first non-ranking title since the 2020 Championship League but faces two potentially formidable tests if he is to do so.
Robertson’s last Shanghai Masters campaign four years ago ended in a Semi-Final defeat to eventual champion O’Sullivan, and he will be determined to avoid a similar fate here.
The Australian looked like he may have been heading for an early exit against Ding Junhui – who reeled off four straight frames from 3-1 down to move one from victory in their Last 16 tie.
But Robertson, who had made a break of 102 earlier in the contest, dug deep to produce breaks of 72, 71 and 65 complete an impressive turnaround.
He then powered past former European Masters champion Fan Zhengyi 6-1 in the Quarter-Finals.
After landing three titles in the 2021-22 season, including The Masters, Robertson came up dry last term and will look to end his mini drought in style this weekend.
Robertson has won all three of his previous meetings with Brecel – at the 2015 World Grand Prix, 2018 Players Championship and 2019 China Open.
Their latest meeting gets under way from 7am BST for a total of nine frames before resuming to a finish over the best of 21 from 12.30pm.
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