Neil Robertson locks horns with Ding Junhui in a mouth-watering second-round clash at the Shanghai Masters on Wednesday.
One of the standout ties in the last 16, snooker’s two most successful overseas players go head to head at Shanghai Grand Stage once more.
They also met at this stage in the most recent edition of the tournament four years ago with two-time semi-finalist Robertson prevailing 6-3, while two-time champion Ding triumphed 5-2 in the quarter-finals on his way to lifting the trophy for the first time in 2013.
In fact, outside the Premier League and Championship League, the Dragon has won all five tournaments in which he has beaten the Australian – including the 2014 China Open and 2005 UK Championship – and he will hope that serves as a positive omen here.
Both players are still in the early stages of their 2023-24 seasons. This is Ding’s first tournament of the campaign and only Robertson’s third match overall.
The Australian is hoping for better fortunes this term after what was, by his standards, a generally modest 2022-23, in which he failed to land any silverware and failed to qualify for the Players Championship and Tour Championship – two tournaments he had won the previous season.
Robertson began this campaign by falling at the first hurdle of the European Masters to Wu Yize – against whom he made two breaks of 146 at the Crucible four months earlier. But he did qualify for next month’s Wuhan Open with a dominant 5-0 whitewash of compatriot Ryan Thomerson.
Meanwhile, Ding also beat a fellow countryman last time out – the three-time UK champion launching his season with breaks of 70, 57 and 51 in a 6-2 victory over World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui at the start of the week.
Since the inaugural Shanghai Masters in 2007, he is one of just two multiple champions along with four-time winner Ronnie O’Sullivan, having also delighted his home crowd with victory in 2016.
The winner of this match will set up a Shanghai Masters quarter-final showdown with Fan Zhengyi, who eliminated world number three Mark Allen earlier today.
Play gets under way at 12.30pm BST on Wednesday and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at Shanghai Grand Stage.
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