Ronnie O’Sullivan launches his 2023-24 season when he renews his rivalry with Ali Carter in the Shanghai Masters last 16 on Tuesday.
The seven-time World champion is yet to feature in any WST events this term, opting against participating in the Championship League and withdrawing from the European Masters on medical grounds.
But the Rocket returns at the popular invitational event, where he is a four-time winner and three-time defending champion.
Indeed, O’Sullivan won his first Shanghai Masters title back in 2009, before winning three on the bounce between 2017 and 2019.
Although a ranking title eluded him last season, both of his victories came in invitational events at the Hong Kong Masters and Champion of Champions.
The Rocket’s quest to get back in the winner’s circle commences against a player he has beaten in 16 of their 17 previous meetings (excluding the Championship League).
Two of those came in World Championship finals in 2008 and 2012, while he has gone on to win a further seven tournaments following victories over Carter.
The Captain’s sole success came during their infamous Crucible encounter in 2018, winning 13-9 in a contest remembered for a couple of “shoulder barge” incidents.
Carter is also a former Shanghai Masters champion, lifting the trophy in 2010 just a few months after reaching the World Championship semi-finals to climb to a career-high second in the world rankings.
The five-time ranking event winner claimed only his second win of the season in six attempts last time out, defeating local qualifier Dong Zihao 6-2 with breaks of 122, 88, 86 and 76 along the way.
But he is still relatively fresh from winning the German Masters and reaching the Players Championship final at the back end of last term, and will be feeling confident as a result.
The winner of this match will play John Higgins in the Shanghai Masters quarter-finals.
Play gets underway at 12.30pm BST on Tuesday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at Shanghai Grand Stage.
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