Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins renew their box office rivalry in the Semi-Finals of the 2021 English Open in Milton Keynes on Saturday.
The fixture known as the ‘El Clasico’ of snooker returns for another unmissable installment as two of the sport’s most decorated cueists collide.
O’Sullivan is competing in his fourth event of the season, having pulled out midway through the Championship League before suffering a Third Round defeat to Yan Bingtao in the Northern Ireland Open and a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Hossein Vafaei in the German Masters qualifiers.
The world number three last tasted success in a ranking tournament at the 2020 World Championship and has subsequently lost in five finals.
O’Sullivan has looked in fine fettle in Milton Keynes so far this week, dropping just six frames in five matches en route to the penultimate stage of the Home Nation Series event.
The Rocket registered back-to-back 4-1 wins over World Seniors Champion David Lilley and Michael Georgiou, before fending off a spirited fightback from Anthony Hamilton to prevail in a last-frame decider.
He then whitewashed Jamie Clarke 4-0 on Thursday, taking his tally of centuries for the tournament to six in the process, and followed that up with a 5-1 rout of Luca Brecel in Friday’s Quarter-Finals.
O’Sullivan claimed this title in 2017 and is looking to deny his ‘Class of 92′ rival to remain on course for a second crown.
Higgins, meanwhile, is appearing in his second successive English Open Semi-Final, having lost out to eventual champion Judd Trump last year.
The four-time World Champion ended a three-year wait for a ranking title by thrashing O’Sullivan 10-3 in the final of the Players Championship at this venue back in February.
Higgins has seen off Zhao Jianbo, Oliver Lines, Lu Ning, Ding Junhui and Masters Champion Yan Bingtao in reaching the Semi-Final stage with three centuries to his name.
This will be the 69th meeting between these two giants of the baize, stretching back to 1994, with O’Sullivan having claimed 35 victories to Higgins’ 30, in addition to three draws.
O’Sullivan did avenge his heavy Players Championship final defeat by clinching a 10-8 success at the Tour Championship earlier this year, and ‘The Rocket’ has won four of their last six show-downs.
Their latest encounter gets under way from approximately 1pm GMT and will be contested over the best of 11 frames at the Marshall Arena.
Either reigning UK Champion Neil Robertson or 2016 Northern Ireland Open winner Mark King will await the winner in Sunday’s final.
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