Defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan stormed into a third consecutive Shanghai Masters final after defeating Neil Robertson 10-6 on Saturday.
O’Sullivan claimed six of the last seven frames as he seized upon a huge slice of misfortune from his opponent – who suffered a broken tip after miscueing in the first session.
The world number two produced a brace of century breaks in a dominant second session as he set up a show-down with Shaun Murphy for the £200,000 title on Sunday.
“I’m pleased to get through to the final,” O’Sullivan told World Snooker. “This is a special tournament and my favourite one on the circuit.
“I’m proud of any record I can get in snooker, so not losing here in three years is great. I just like to play and I like to compete.
“There have been a couple of times this week where I feel that haven’t performed. That can zap a bit of energy out of you. I think snooker is about whether you can win when you aren’t playing your best.”
After O’Sullivan had edged a close-run opening frame, Robertson replied in style with a break of 107 to level before ‘The Rocket’ regained the lead with a 62.
Robertson then doubled his tally of tons courtesy of a superb 101 in frame four, before the pair exchanged breaks of 57 to make it three apiece.
A further half century (52) edged O’Sullivan back in front, but Robertson dominated frame eight before producing a stunning 129 clearance to establish a 5-4 advantage heading into the final session.
Robertson’s miscue on a yellow in frame six had resulted in damage to his tip, though the Australian opted not to replace it during the interval.
O’Sullivan took the opening frame of the second session after a further miscue from Robertson halted a potential steal, and the China Open champion then missed the final black in the following frame to gift-wrap the five-time World Champion a 6-5 lead.
O’Sullivan then added a quick-fire 87 to strengthen his grip on the contest and soon made it four frames in a row to move 8-5 up.
The reigning champion produced his first century of the match in frame 14 – a 102 – to move within a frame of victory, before Robertson finally stopped the rot by taking frame 15 by 74 points to nil.
O’Sullivan, though, clinched the win in trademark fashion with a spectacular break of 134 to extend his unbeaten run in Shanghai to 13 matches.
Robertson admitted: “Playing with the damaged tip was really tough.
“It was like trying to do an 800-metre race in the Olympics with a pulled hamstring. Then your only hopes are the rest of the field falling over and allowing you to win.”