Ronnie O’Sullivan steps up his quest for a first ranking title of the year with a Quarter-Final clash against Luca Brecel at the 2021 English Open on Friday.
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 five frames en route to the business end of the Home Nations 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.
The six-time World Champion will be poised for a tough test from a resurgent Brecel – who is appearing in his first ranking Quarter-Final since the 2019 China Open.
The Belgian Bullet claimed his maiden ranking title at the 2017 China Championship but has struggled for form on a consistent basis in recent years, dropping out of the world’s top 16 to a current ranking of 46th.
Brecel began with a 4-0 whitewash of Stuart Carrington in the Last 64, before overcoming Li Hang 4-1 and Fraser Patrick 4-2 to set up a glamour tie with his snooker idol.
The duo have met on two previous occasions in ranking competition, with O’Sullivan prevailing 5-1 in the 2015 China Open, before Brecel gained his revenge with a 5-4 success in the Quarter-Finals of the 2017 China Championship en route to glory.
Their latest encounter gets under way from approximately 2pm GMT and will be contested over the best of nine frames at the Marshall Arena.
Either John Higgins or Yan Bingtao will await the winner in the Semi-Finals on Saturday.
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