Ronnie O’Sullivan looks to move a step closer to a hat-trick of Shanghai Masters titles by fending off the challenge of 2015 champion Kyren Wilson in the Quarter-Finals on Thursday.
O’Sullivan has made this tournament his own in recent years, winning the title back-to-back in 2017 and 2018 to add to his initial triumph a decade ago.
Making his first competitive appearance of the season, ‘The Rocket’ ruthlessly whitewashed Chinese wildcard Zhang Yi 6-0 with a brace of centuries en route to extending his unbeaten run in the Shanghai Masters to eleven matches.
O’Sullivan showed little sign of rustiness in his opening salvo despite a five-month sabbatical since his shock First Round exit in the World Championship, but will face his first real test against the world number eight in what promises to be a captivating contest.
Wilson’s major breakthrough came in this event four years ago when he claimed his first raking title, and the Kettering cueist has not looked back since, adding the Paul Hunter Classic title in 2018 and German Masters earlier this year.
Runner-up in the 2018 Masters, Wilson has established himself as one of the sport’s most consistent performers and is now eyeing a first win over O’Sullivan since 2016.
Wilson knocked out the flamboyant Xiao Guodong 6-4 in his opener and will be out to avenge his 10-6 defeat at the hands of O’Sullivan at the Semi-Final stage here 12 months ago.
The duo have also met in two ranking finals – the 2017 English Open and 2018 Champion of Champions – with O’Sullivan prevailing on both occasions in high quality affairs.
Their latest battle gets underway from 12.30pm BST and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Regal International East Asia Hotel.
Reigning Welsh Open and China Open champion Neil Robertson will await the winner in Saturday’s second Semi-Final.